At half past seven in the morning of December 30 at the door of the bakery Burnt from Colmenar Viejo (Madrid) five customers protected with ski masks shivered in the queue at 2ºC below zero. At the time of opening, just at eight o’clock, when I was already leaving, the line had grown to fifty people. The estimated waiting time was to be an hour and a quarter for the last newcomer. “You are to blame, Mr. Capel,” said with a half smile, as soon as someone I was unable to recognize came out, wrapped up to his eyes. “The only person responsible is the roscón, which is great,” I responded in passing.
For half an hour he had remained in the workroom of this bakery whose roscón (proclaimed the best of Madrid 2021) won the victory on December 16 at the III Contest organized by the portal Gastroactiud with a jury chaired by Paco Torreblanca. Thirty minutes in which I lived the madness of a tiny team overwhelmed by demand. In a pause I talked as I could with Mario Ortiz, who has broken with conventional recipes. It even molds it in another way. It is worth reproducing this Video.
Inside, I had moved around as I pleased until the closure was lifted. Go early! I commented to the first buyer. “I’ve been waiting since 6.45. I have traveled since Galicia“, She answered smilingly. “Yesterday some gentlemen from Bilbao”, Intervened Aroa Ortiz, sister of Mario, one of the shop assistants.
Success has stifled this baker who opened his store seven months ago and overnight has become a star, haunted by the media and television. However, nothing seems to be believed. He responds with astonishing calm and strives to the limit to do his job. I hardly sleep, we work between 16 and 17 hours in five-hour shifts, I laugh at the CrossFit of the elite military.
What has happened after the award?
“The hecatomb. We had an assistant to answer the phone from eight in the morning until four fifteen. Eight hours without a break. The unlikely thing is that shortly after hanging up I had 750 new calls, a collective fever.
“Good and bad things. The worst thing is that people become uncomfortable with our inability to meet such demand. It is worthy of a psychological study, the more impossible something is, the more desire it generates. Nor is it good that we turn to roscones to the detriment of my best bakery pieces, baguettes and chapatas. We barely bake loaves, dude paid and lino. We do not reach more varieties. We are alone my father and I with a small team. We feel powerless. “
As a recourse to such an avalanche, at the door of Burnt a brief poster reads: “Reservation quota closed, sorry for the inconvenience”. Something similar to the note that stands out on your Instagram account @brulee_panaderia.
Secret of your roscón?
“We use sourdough from panettone, the most difficult piece of pastries. For 24 hours we infuse the milk with grated aromatics, citrus, cinnamon and vanilla, and of course we apply very slow fermentations, longer than 48 hours. Our roscón does not dry out, it lasts for days. We have turned old recipes upside down.
How long have you been in the trade?
“Almost five years. I lived for two years in England, in New Castle, bordering Scotland, an area of solid gastronomic culture, while working in the restaurant Artisans as a chef in the kitchen. I was in charge of the cold, starters and desserts. Later they made me responsible for the bread service, I ended up specializing and learned the discipline of the brigades and the teams ”.
Where has it been formed?
“Upon returning to Madrid I set out to learn in the best bakeries. First Panic, beside Javier Brand, then with Antonio de San Francisco Bakery and from there to 3 letters Pan and Amasa. I did a master’s degree in bakery in Sabadell with Yohan Ferrant, then with the boys from Our Bread, Eneko and Unai, very technical, fantastic, two national references. Later with Antonio Garcia of Lord, and later Antonio Cepas of Benipan. So until May 30, 2020 I inaugurated Brulée, seven months ago. A baker must master many techniques, he should not focus on just one aspect”.
Do you like hydrated doughs?
“It is not something that worries me. There are flours that need more water than others. Each dough requires different hydrations. I don’t stick to rules, I follow base formulas in which I introduce variants. Nothing in the bakery is stable. The subjectivity component is high.
The greatest difficulty for an artisan baker?
The regularity. When you handle cultured sourdoughs, you resort to organic flours without additives and you practice slow fermentation, everything is complex. The results are influenced by the outside temperature and ambient humidity. To a large degree we bakers are a bit meteorologists. During the summer the fermentations accelerate; in winter the opposite. Organic wheats absorb less water in winter than in summer. Moisture alters the crusts. You cannot be guided by rigid rules. So important is the technique like doses of intuition that you apply in each case ”.
I know very few bakers who are good pastry chefs, and conversely, I interrupted Ortiz. It is as if there is an invisible border between the two trades. “Pastry is very rigid in its formulas, bakery not so much”, he answered without hesitation.
Your breads are not acidic
“I do not like. I consider acidity a defect. I try not to make it appear in my bread, but with natural fermentations as soon as you go out of tune a millimeter it immediately appears. In fact, I make the ciabatta and baguettes with Poolish preferment to get the lactic touches they require. If a baker is satisfied with his sour breads, go ahead. For my part, I disagree with those who say that sourdough is acidic. Acidity presupposes a lack of control of the sourdough.
What does it take to get good bread?
“Quality ingredients, technical knowledge, studies and time. Bread is like a slow cooker stew, it cannot be accelerated, it requires hours and rest throughout each process “.
Change the cuteness?
“I like the crusts better, those flavors of nuts and toasted beers that accompany them. The crumb is grain-like texture and flavor. In reality, they are inseparable. “
Your favorite flours?
“French and Spanish. Now I work with Despelta artisan firm that has recovered ancient wheats in the mountains of Guadalajara and it supplies us with stone-ground flours ”.
Before saying goodbye, the father of Mario He told me in passing: “The award has unleashed Burnt a kind of madness. Our regular customers have multiplied by 10. I hope this little bakery does not lose its essence. Mario understands flours, temperatures, baking times, humidity and fermentation. When he talks about bread you don’t blink. The roscón was no accident. It is great that young people emerge with a passion to investigate and improve at every step. There is an ever stronger resurgence of artisan bakers. Professionals eager to improve themselves, committed to the environment and the values of the trade ”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.