Back in the early 1990s, Sheree Holloway fell in love with artisan bread and left for France to learn how to make it. Once an accountant, she returned as a baker with enough passion to found, with her husband Peter, a restaurant concept called Cafe 501, which has been going strong — now in two locations — since 1996.
But the passion for bread-making didn't reduce to embers there.
While Cafe 501, 501 S Boulevard in Edmond, has become a local mainstay for lunch and dinner, expanding with its second store at Classen Curve in fall of 2010, Holloway has spent the better part of the last two years developing a new bread for 501.
The result is Cafe 501's new rustic loaf, which looks a lot like a sourdough loaf but without the sour flavor because of the way the starter is stored. That's important because this is a bread made from natural yeast. A little of the starter dough born about a year and a half ago is a part of every rustic loaf that emerges from the ovens in the 501 bakery.
“This is bread with an old soul,” said bakery manager Kaci York. “It's flour, water and salt. It's amazing how those three simple ingredients can lend so much flavor.”
The other thing about Holloway and York's baby that differentiates it from a lot of fresh-made bread is its shelf-life. I took a loaf home and tried it the day it was baked and then again four days later and found little discernible difference.
This artisan bread has a soft center with nice crusty edge, making it a prime sopping bread for serial soppers like me. Toasted lightly and streaked with butter, this bread doesn't need a lot of help but that hasn't stopped new chef Roy Erwin from implementing into the considerable sandwich arsenal at Cafe 501, including a new meatball. It's also ideal for bruschetta
Holloway said the rustic loaf is also available at Boulevard Steakhouse.
“It's bread made the way it's been made and passed down for generations,” Sheree said.
This bread is just further proof of the ongoing evolution of the food scene and its offerings in and around Oklahoma City metro these days. Don't try the rustic loaf unless you're prepared to make a long-term commitment because you'll have a difficult time eating only one.
For more information, call 359-1501.