Before Ken’s Artisan Bakery earned a name as Portland’s Francophile baking sanctuary, Ken Forkish was a one-man show. In 2001, he rose every day at 3 a.m. to start his levain dough, bake his baguettes and brioche, and pre-ferment the next morning’s ciabatta before the mad rush of top chefs came knocking for their daily bread.
Twelve years, an always-mobbed pizza joint, and a serious bread-baking tome later, Forkish is returning to the oven. But at SE Sixth Avenue’s Trifecta Tavern, fresh loaves will puff forth from the oven only after 5 p.m. “There’s a kind of consciousness in the baking world that demands waking up early,” Forkish explains. “But I’m not going to deprive myself the pleasure of my craft for the sake of tradition.”
Trifecta’s levain twists, smoked rye, and pan-baked pumpernickel will drive a vision of elevated tavern cuisine—part baking lab, part small-plates eatery. Look for glutenous creations supporting open-face Nordic Smorrebrod sandwiches, soaked in booze for rum baba, and grilled alongside buckets of East Coast–style clam steamers. As Forkish says, “When it comes to bread, you can be damn sure I’m gonna do just about everything but pickle it!”
To whet your appetite until Trifecta’s summer opening, Forkish offers a spring salad recipe that he promises will change the way you look at rye. Forkish smokes his loaves in a wood-fired oven. At home, cook yours on a barbecue with the vents closed for a few minutes to cloak it in a smoky crust.