As the dough rises, so does business at Aioli

The sourdough can be a diva. Sometimes she cooperates, but there are times she refuses to give in to the coaxing.

Chef Michael Hackman of Aioli sandwich shop in West Palm Beach knows them well, the whims of sourdough.

Aioli's basic bread ingredients: 'Water, flour and salt.' Plus patience. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)

Aioli’s basic bread: ‘Water, flour and salt.’ Plus patience. (LibbyVision.com)

“It’s a lot of work. It’s very temperamental. You mess up one thing and it’s ruined,” says Hackman, who owns the daylight café with wife/partner Melanie.

Aioli's chef/co-owner Michael Hackman. (LibbyVision.com)

Aioli’s chef/co-owner Michael Hackman. (LibbyVision.com)

He bakes bread daily for the shop’s sandwiches as well as for retail sale. He bakes semolina bread and seven-grain loaves. Within the bread-baking rotation, he makes two types of sourdough bread, a plain loaf and an olive-studded one. But they can be tricky.

Chef Michael Hackman kneads sourdough for bread. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)

Chef Michael Hackman kneads sourdough for bread. (LibbyVision.com)

Part of the reason for the challenge is that Hackman uses no shortcuts.

“I started making sourdough from scratch. We don’t use commercial yeast. We make the ‘mother,’ the culture. We’re making the yeast and watching it grow,” he says. “There was a moment when I literally fell in love with it.”

The handmade loaves sell for $6, $9 and $12.

Preparing bread molds: Hackman at Aioli. (LibbyVision.com)

Preparing bread molds: Hackman at Aioli. (LibbyVision.com)

Hackman’s love of baking – and his customers’ demand for his breads – sparked expansion plans at Aioli. The couple recently began construction on a separate baking facility that will operate adjacently to the café.

“We will be doing all the bread production there, plus a little wholesale,” says Hackman.

Time for a nap: rising dough at Aioli. (LibbyVision.com)

Time for a nap: rising dough at Aioli. (LibbyVision.com)

Also in the works, an Aioli location in downtown West Palm Beach.

“We’re still in the beginning stages,” Hackman says of that spot.

Michael Hackman's olive-studded sourdough beauty. (LibbyVision.com)

Michael Hackman’s olive-studded sourdough beauty. (LibbyVision.com)

Although the business is set to grow, he says it will not change Aioli’s mission to create fresh food using seasonal and many times local ingredients:

“We love to make stuff from scratch here.”

Aioli: 7434 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-366-7741

 

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