June 21, 2011
My biggest heartache as a temporarily nomadic cook, traveling from kitchen to kitchen while my own is being renovated, is that I've had to put my bread baking aspirations on hiatus.
And while my starter Philémon marks the days on the wall inside the fridge (poor thing), I've had to go back to bakery-bought bread.
You might think that would be bliss, living in Paris and in an arrondissement where bakers win more awards than in any other. But the truth is I'm quite particular about my bread, and we've suffered through a few disappointing loaves, including a rapidly staling Paume that had evidently not been baked on the day I bought it.
Fortunately, our friend Gontran Cherrier, whom we've known for a few years, had the brilliant idea of opening his bakery right in our neighborhood last December, and his breads have shed a much happier light on our breakfast tartines.
Gontran is a classically trained boulanger who has spent the first part of his career teaching other bakers in France and abroad, doing consulting work, baking in restaurants, writing books, and hosting television shows. This is his first time running a bakery of his own, and I love the way he's doing it.
The shop itself is bright and elegant, with a high ceiling and cheerful details, and we've been sincerely impressed by the items we've tasted from his range of artisan breads and viennoiseries.
He makes a mean croissant (using the feuilletage inversé technique that's normally used for napoleons, so it's extra flaky), excellent little sandwiches on homemade buns in assorted colors, and a fine pain au levain with organic flour, but I have a special weakness for his rye and red miso bread, pictured above.
It is an imposing loaf, weighing in at two kilos (4.4 pounds), so I've been buying one half at a time (7.20€/kg). It keeps exceptionally well, and lasts us well over a week. The crumb is tight and almost cake-like in its tenderness; the crust is robust and toasts to a satisfying crisp. And the flavor -- it is unlike any rye bread I've ever had, with the genius pairing of the malty aromas of rye with the umami sweetness of red miso.
I find it is particularly good spread with nut butters -- almond or cashew or peanut, which we always have on hand -- but it does very well with cheese, too, such as the comté Maxence brought back from a recent weekend in the Doubs.
I doubt I would ever have thought of adding miso to my own breads, but I look forward to experimenting with that idea when I get back to my regular bread baking activities -- pretty soon, if all goes well.
Chocolate Almond Bettelman
Olive Oil and Black Pepper Tartine
Dehydrating Your Sourdough Starter