"artisan bread" news and stories
The lame probably originated in France, but it was quickly adopted by artisan bakers in the US. It creates a score on the top of the bread that even a very sharp knife can't achieve, which is due to the curve of the lame as well as it's razor edge. When the bread expands in the oven, the crust will split at some point, no matter what. Scoring the top not only creates an aesthetically pleasing look to the bread, it also allows the baker to control how and where the inevitable split will be.
The lame is used by holding it gently by the very end, and dragging it across the surface of the dough just before putting it into the oven. You need to use enough pressure to cut into the dough, but try not to go too deep. Also, the lame should be held at a slight angle to the dough to get a proper ear. Most doughs with a stiff enough consistency should get a good ear, but really wet doughs will not.
The best one I could find for a home baker was this lame from King Arthur Flour.com. It should stay sharp for quite some time, and it comes with the blade guard for more safety while you're not using it. Professional bakers have a lame which has a replaceable blade, while this version does not. At under $7, this lame could be a great asset to your tool kit if you're really serious about bread.
As soon as I heard about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I had to have it. I love bread. It's my most important food group, and I'd go into a never-ending fit of withdrawal without it. In the past, I used my bread machine, but it just didn't produce loaves as tasty as the artisan variety, and that damned whirring noise right next to my desk was quite annoying.
This week, I attempted to make the rye bread recipe. I'd recently bought a whole slew of different grains and flours, so I didn't check my ingredients first. The one thing I didn't have: rye flour. Since I already had my little yeasties going crazy in the lukewarm water, I decided to find a substitute. I used multigrain flour, and hoped for the best.
Oh, it's so very worth it. It's got the soft chewyness of a white bread, the tasty grains from multigrain, and that added caraway kick. It baffles me why caraway seeds have been relegated only to the dark and tasty halls of rye bread. Next time you run out of rye flour, or are in the mood for something different, try it out.
Luckily for me, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François have solved the timing problem by devising an even easier way of making good, fresh bread at home and they've written a cookbook called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day devoted to their method. They developed a wet dough that can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. What you do is simply cut off a chunk of dough and bake it off each day as needed. That way one night you can bake up a larger loaf if you're having guests for dinner and the next day, you can just bake off the little bit you need for your afternoon sandwich.
In addition to the standard loaf, Zoë has created an assortment of recipes that allow you to take the basic bread dough and turn it into all sorts of breads from sweet rolls to seeded loaves. The book is written clearly and the recipes are easy to follow. There aren't a ton of pictures, but what are there are gorgeous.
I've personally made several batches of the dough and it's turned out perfectly each time. I even let a batch of dough hang out in my fridge for a full two weeks, to determine if it really was still usable after all that time and discovered that the bread that baked up from that older dough was wonderful, with a distinct sour taste that reminded me of the sourdough I occasionally buy from a local bakery.
One final note about this book is that it is accompanied by an informative website that includes questions from readers and answers from the authors, a section devoted to clearing up an errors in the book and videos of Jeff and Zoe in baking action.
Now that we know how foods gain acceptance, there are a few items poised to rise in the eyes of mainstream eaters in the upcoming year. Some of these are just making their way onto the plates of foodies, while others are already beginning to appear in widely available products. The popularity of all of these items is sure to rise over the coming 12 months.
Chimichurri is an Argentinean dipping sauce that has a spicy, intense flavor, though, like salsa, its ingredients and heat are highly customizable. Already a regular at high-end eateries, it is beginning to show up on mid-range menus, too.
Churrasco is a Brazilian style of barbeque in which fire grilled meats are both roasted on and served from a large skewer. The meal also usually includes tapas-like appetizers, which had gained tremendous popularity in the past few years.
Premium breads are fast making their way into homes across the country, with ordinary grocery stores carrying decent baguettes and fast food restaurants offering their sandwiches on ciabatta or artisan sourdoughs. There are whole chains of restaurants that have sprung up around artisan-style bread, indicating that it is only a matter of time before people can properly discern between French and focaccia.
Regional Mexican is developing the same way that knowledge of regional Italian developed over the past 40 years. Spices and dishes from the
White Tea is high in antioxidants and has piggybacked into a larger recognition on the tailcoat of its well-known relative, green tea. Lacking the slightly grassy flavor of green tea, which skyrocketed into national sight after being widely publicized by Starbucks this year, white teas are being offered in increasing numbers by purveyors of tea.
Dulce de Leche is a creamy, caramel-like sauce made of sugar and condensed milk. Its rich taste and familiar appearance have led to a growing fondness for the treat, which has already appeared in many high end, but widely available ice creams.