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“Einkorn Evenings” are Jovial Food’s next step in building community

Almost a year after Jovial Foods moved from North Franklin to North Stonington, owner and New London native Carla Bartolucci is itching to expand her offerings to the community.

“I got the idea that wouldn’t it be nice to start reaching out to the community now slowly so that we can start making alliances with people, tell them about einkorn, and get them baking,” she said.

The company now occupies the historic John Randall Homestead, which dates back to the late 1600s, and the buildings and property are slated to be restored. But with the renovations leaning toward being a two-year project, she wants to start getting classes running by December.

A group of 20 visitors filled the Jovial test kitchen on Aug. 10 for “Einkorn Evenings,” the first public event held at the facility. Bartolucci said she has had a smattering of visitors over the year, especially since she was named the 2017 Connecticut Small Business Person of the Year in March, but Einkorn Evenings will be her first opportunity to introduce her company and its products to people in the community.

Both the Aug. 10 and Aug. 23 events filled within 24 hours of being posted, and about 20 people were waitlisted.

After a brief tour of the facility and discussion about the history of the company and its products, guests were treated to a sampling of recipes from Bartolucci’s cookbook “Einkorn.”

The scones, cookies and bread from the book all utilized einkorn, the ancestral variety of wheat that she discovered was suitable for her daughter Giulia, who had gluten sensitivity issues.

Since einkorn bakes much differently than regular, all-purpose flour — it’s more finely milled and has weaker gluten — Bartolucci ended the evening with a demonstration of some of the more common recipes and techniques in the book. Rather than kneading einkorn dough straight out of the bowl, she recommended letting it sit and turning it every 15 minutes to allow the flour to slowly absorb the water and form a less sticky dough.

She also discussed how to create and use a sourdough starter; she said she loves seeing photos from people in her classes baking picture-perfect loaves at home using her recipes. Using a starter she had been feeding for 10 years, she created a sample starter to pass around, adding that even a mature starter like hers might not behave the same way for every loaf of bread depending on humidity or how much wild yeast is already in the kitchen.

“The more you bake, the more of these wild yeasts will be in your kitchen,” she said. “In my kitchen in Italy, my bread rises really quick, but when I get back to Connecticut, my bread turns out terrible the first few days.”

Bartolucci said her dream is to eventually create a full farm-to-table experience on the site and develop cooking getaways similar to the ones she already runs in Italy. While the kitchens wouldn’t be open to the public year round, they would be open for classes and other events, and all of the design elements would retain the rustic charm of the original property.

“I know that a lot of people like this place, a lot of people got married here, and the property is special to many people, so I feel a sense of responsibility to make sure that I’m doing everything right,” she said. “I think everyone is going to be really excited when they see the plans for the buildings. It’s going to be beautiful.”

a.hutchinson@theday.com

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