Friday, May 13, 2011

I can't stop thinking about bread.

Our blog has been quiet for more than a month. I suppose it would be appropriate to break the silence with the crackle of freshly baked bread. Since my initial bread blog, I have experimented with the country loaf (and many variations of it, including olive, multi-grain, raisin), croissant, kaiser roll, flatbread, baguette, and dinner roll. I've even trained with the bakers at the Le Pain Quotidien commissary in Inglewood, producing a few pretty baguettes while there.

At this point, I have a few conclusions: 1) bread isn't really worth baking unless it's really good. "Really good" defined as crackly crust, good crumb structure, flavorful. The flavor should come from the dough itself, not from add-ins. When the bread itself is solid, add-ins make the final product that much better. 2) some level of investment is necessary to bake most types of artisan breads because the crust is so important. In commercial decks, steam is initially injected into the closed compartment of a hot oven. I've learned that it's possible to reproduce the sealed environment using a heavy cast-iron combo cooker, but this obviously cannot accommodate a baguette. 3) it really isn't that hard to make delicious artisan breads if you understand the fundamentals of cookery and respect your own limitations, whether imposed by skill or equipment. After several months of baking bread, I'm back at where I started - perfecting the country loaf. Mainly, it's because I'm able to make large batches with no more equipment than a cast-iron and a plain old home oven.

These realizations have led TM and I to really narrow down what we envision for the bread program at Raciรณn. Simple, individual miniature country loaves (i.e. rolls) - add-ins to be determined - to start the meal and slices of country loaf w/o add-ins to accompany stews or serve as the base of pan con tomate. Simple, easy to produce w/o the excess of additional kitchen equipment, and most importantly, a dining pleasure.

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