Spanish Haute Bread The Triticum Way
Spanish bread maker Xevi Ramon characterizes his company Triticum as a hybrid that is “100% artisanal and 100% industrial.” Using an innovative technique for precooking and deep-freezing top quality, artisanally-made bread, Triticum has earned a much-deserved spot on the tables of some of the most acclaimed restaurants in Spain and, increasingly, abroad
Bread – there's nothing better. This is particularly true in Spain, a country where bread is an absolutely essential part of any dining experience, whether you're sidled up to a bar enjoying tapas or seated at a table in the most humble or most luxurious restaurant. However, while a serving of really good bread is always appreciated and quickly devoured, it's not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when deciding where to dine – particularly when you're choosing between Michelin star, avant garde restaurants. But this is changing every day, thanks in part to Xevi Ramon and Triticum, the Spanish baker and his bread company that combine the highest standard of ingredients, artisanal techniques and a passion for traditional bread making, with some of the most innovative technological advances used by the industrial bread industry today.
The artisanal quality of Triticum's breads is undeniable. Made using a large quantity of organic flours, stone-ground flours and natural yeasts, these breads are subjected to long fermentations (48 hours) and left to rise on linen cloths. They are then baked in ovens on a stone surface, which produces an excellent crumb and crust. The precooked breads are then subjected to deep-freezing processes that have been perfected by Ramon and his team, who have figured out how to apply industrial methods on an artisanal scale. It is this combination of tradition, artisanship and innovation that is at this company’s core, brought together by a rigorous commitment to quality.
The Triticum triumvirate
Triticum is in fact three product lines, Triticum, Triticumdelux and The Bread Away Collection, founded in that order by Xevi Ramon and continually evolving in step with the market. A passionate baker from Catalonia, Ramon knew from a very young age that he wanted to follow in the professional footsteps of his baker grandparents. His studies in this field were complemented by stints at some of the top bakeries in Spain and France, and were eventually followed by consulting work for a wide variety of related companies ranging from a flour company to an international industrial bread machinery manufacturer. This exposure to a wide array of businesses helped Ramon focus on what he wanted for his own bread workshop, a project that finally materialized in 2006 with the founding of Triticum, a company dedicated to making quality, precooked (deep-frozen) bread for the restaurant, catering and hotel industries. According to Ramon, "I had a lot of experience in the industrial world; it was just a matter of adapting and applying this knowledge to the artisanal world."
Triticum’s initial focus was on making individual, small-format breads (15 to 80 grams) for high level restaurants, hotels and catering companies. Olive, nut and apricot, five-grain, onion and rustic, are just a few of the flavors available in this line, which are pre-cooked most of the way through and then deep-frozen – to be finished on order. However, aware of the trend among top-tier restaurants to veer away from individual format breads, and hungry for a challenge, the company launched Triticumdelux in 2008, a line of larger format breads (350 grams to 1.5 kilos) that are often tailor-made to meet the demands of some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs.
Balance between crumb & crust
According to Ramon, the larger size means that these breads are more aromatic with a better balance between crumb and crust, mingling the humidity and acidity of the interior with the bread’s slightly bitter and toasted exterior. However, he goes on to explain that most industrial bread makers don’t attempt to create pre-cooked large format breads, as they tend to deflate when taken out of the oven. But for Triticum the solution came by way of a specially developed system. Loaves are cooked 60-65% of the way and then subjected to a special deep-freezing process, before being individually packaged by hand, in order to maintain their visual identity.
Another appealing characteristic of these breads is that the large formats can be personalized to meet the needs of individual chefs and restaurants. Triticumdelux's customers have included world-class Spanish chefs like Joan Roca, Paco Pérez, Jordi Cruz, Ángel León, Francis Paniego, Rodrigo de la Calle and more. Ramon and his team work hand-in-hand with chefs to develop custom artisanal products. The process can be intense – a perfect example of this being the three years that Ramon worked with the Roca brothers to create the perfect wine bread made using grapes from the Empordà. Other creations have included buckwheat and seaweed breads for Les Cols and Aponiente restaurants respectively.
According to Ramon, the key to these products' success is a mixture of factors that includes traditions, ingredients, use of age-old recipes, as well as "the sum of a thousand details: applications, communication with your customers, obsession for quality, perpetual non-conformism, the image, the business vision from the point of view of a baker". For him, the creation process begins as such. "First you must get to know the professional (chef), his kitchen, his team. Get to know his needs and look for the product that we think is a fit; both in terms of format, and in terms of texture, aroma and presentation. Additionally, we must do follow-up to make sure that the client is satisfied with the results".
The Bread Away Collection
The third branch of Triticum was created with the intention of bringing the luxury and quality of these artisanal breads to the general public. The Bread Away Collection was founded in 2012 as a chain of stores that sell freshly-made artisanal bread (not pre-cooked or deep-frozen) at "street level". The first to open was Juliette, located in the town of Vilassar de Mar (Catalonia). It was quickly followed by Triticum by Moritz in the city of Barcelona. A third location, El Rebost de la Juliette, is scheduled to open in the Barcelona town of Cabrera de Mar in 2015.
Here, in addition to other products including olive oils, salt, jams, butter, and chocolate, customers can find a wide range of breads that even include some of the recipes that were designed for and with top chefs. Ramon thinks that restaurants enjoy exclusivity while their specially created breads stay on the menu but, "in the long run our customers change their menus or their needs, and frequently they also change their bread... but we continue to offer these breads, either to other customers or in our stores."
As if three tiers of business weren't enough, Ramon asserts that the company is in the midst of developing several other product ideas, as well as launching an online store and a new website geared towards its burgeoning international audience. Triticum is experiencing consistent growth internationally, selling its bread to haute cuisine establishments in countries like France, Andorra, Italy, Germany and Japan. Though the company currently exports less than 5% of its sales, it is surely only a matter of time before the Triticum way catches on at an avant garde restaurant or shop near you.
Bread – there's nothing better. This is particularly true in Spain, a country where bread is an absolutely essential part of any dining experience, whether you're sidled up to a bar enjoying tapas or seated at a table in the most humble or most luxurious restaurant