I've been thinking lately that I should have more posts about bread. it is my livelihood, after all; and although, you can't live by it alone...you can come pretty darn close. I wanted to take a little bit of time today to talk about crust and crumb. Everyone is pretty familiar with "crust". it is the outside layer of the bread and can be baked to a spectrum of different hues and inundated with things such as seeds, grains, herbs, etc. One particular thing that I wanted to talk about is the importance of a crisp, darker, crust (at least in most european hearth-style breads.) notice the thickness of the crust in the middle picture above. this full sized ciabatta (available now at LeQuartier on weekends!), has a darker, thick crust, giving it a really nice nuttiness and a great crispy, crunchy mouth feel (baking it lighter would lead to a more chewy, american style texture, which i am not particularly a big fan of). not only is this good for taste and aesthetics, but it is also a way to extend the life of the finished product. Baking a loaf of bread darker like this adds to the overall shelf life.
Crumb is just another word for the inside texture of a loaf of bread. Many things affect the finished crumb, such as hydration, mixing time, the addition of pre-ferments, etc. while I'm not about to give our secrets to supreme baking awesomeness away, one thing I can tell you is this: hydration is key. I would say that most american bakeries under-hydrate. Which is kind of sad really. I can't imagine choosing a dense, compact crumb over an airy interior.
So, like I mentioned before, the above picture is of a full sized ciabatta loaf that we just started baking a couple of weeks ago. In italian, it means "ladies slipper", or "flat slipper", but I assure you, it tastes nothing like shoe leather. This is a great bread to slice horizontally for paninis or pressed sandwiches, or in vertical slices for bruschetta, crostini, or just to dip in some fruity olive oil or some nice, sticky balsamic. or...you could make the tomato sauce pictured above (ridiculously easy recipe to follow) and dip away.
hosted a first b-day party for a good friend's son yesterday. Houseful of peeps, one dog, and what seemed like a billion little girls. all in all, was a pretty good time, but it does seem starkly quiet around here...the dog is still totally passed out from all the madness.
Also, would encourage people to pop into the bakery. we have been doing some cool stuff with the pain de campagne, sourdoughs, etc. Also, we have v-day treats perfect for your lady-friends or your man-beasts.
Three ingredient tomato sauce (click for link, this is a great, simple sauce with really good tomato flaves.)
Icelander. by Dustin Long. this is a great first novel by this guy. A quick read that is interesting from the get-go.