When I heard that writer/baker Sam Fromartz had a book coming out, I squeezed my fingers on my ipad and got a digitized copy. In retrospect, I should have bought the paper version, as it's easier to page through and enjoy. Regardless, it's a terrific book. Sam recounts his early years in New York, then his journey to Paris to learn how to bake baguettes. Along the way he brings up many of his favorite destinations, places like Esposito's, long gone but which I too once loved. Anyway, it's a great bake of a book.
Bread bakers make for a humble, friendly community. Wolfgang Süpke exemplifies such spirit. Meeting him via social media, I asked him for a link about a book he mentioned. Wolfgang didn't just offer a link, he sent me the book, itself. Thanks to Wolfgang for this beautiful copy of Deutschlands Bester Bäcker.
Written in German, it's a beautifully photographed book with a plethora of formulas for bread and pastry native to Germany. Having spent time as a kid living in Germany, and later serving there as in the American army, I look forward to trying a lot of these terrific looking treats.
Ein großes dankeschön an Wolfgang, der beste Bäcker in meinem buch!
This is signature loaf of my friend Sara at her bakery Pizca Good Bakes in Sitges, Spain. Using her as inspiration, I baked three loaves using whole grain flour and various hydrated levain mixes, and ended up giving them away as gifts, so no photos of the crumb. But I love the look of these breads, a bit explosive no? The final one below as baked with my newly milled grains. Thank you, Sara.
Check out Facebook page of Massimo Vitale. Recently he posted what is known as a "ciambella Romagnola," which sometimes translated as a ring cake, reminds me of a torpedo of dough. Massimo posted to enjoy it with white wine, specifically moscato. He's right. Enjoy.
Kamel Saci is a baker who grew up in Toulouse, but now lives and works in New York City, baking at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria. Among many things for which to admire him, I love his doughs for pizza and focaccia. Basic and simple, he's posted the recipe on his website.
His focaccia fino is particularly interesting, a no-shape loaf of bread that is imbibed in olive oil and cut straight from a slab of airy dough, then baked directly to a golden sweet finish. Given my penchant for sourdough, I adapted it. There's an amazing shelf life and sweetness to this dough. Here is what I got from a mixed hybrid adaption as I ran low of yeast!
Having seen erratic taste and texture in recent bakes, I lessened the liquid in my sourdough to see if it improved my bakes. And thinking that weak protein from local flour (farmed and milled in NY State) had a negative impact, I also refreshed my levain by adding some store bought flour, figuring it might correct those issues.
It did lead to a better crumb and crust coming out of my oven. A recent visit with baker-extraordinaire Kamel Saci, (from Il Buco Alimentari) helped, too, as he shared his secret of heating water for levain, adding it to the flour, allowing to cool enough, then adding the sourdough seed! I thought it odd, but tasting and seeing his bread and his advice, I was converted. Thank you, Kamel, for a lovely loaf.
Recently baker Uri Scheft (from Manhattan-based Breads Bakery) invited me to join his crew and some students to mix, and shape three different breads. It gave me a great opportunity to see Uri shape his famous challah bread in various braids - from two to six strands. It was also great to hear Uri use the four hour workshop to explain his approach. Here are some shots from the class.
Early last Saturday morning I spent a few hours with bread baker Kamel Saci of Il buco alimentari & vinieria. Instead of our baking together, we shared stories of the business, talking bread and trends as he went about his day and I took photographs.
A natural born leader, Kamel guides a team of assistants, all the time teaching, encouraging, trading laughter. Watching him work in a tight kitchen, I was amazed by his organization, output and quality of products. The morning left me with his multiple tips on refreshing my levain, so, merci, Kamel!