Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I'm Headed to Bread Mecca

Oui, I made that.
I'm going to Paris.

Let me say that again: I'm going to PARIS!

After four years of studying bread baking from my kitchen and living room, I am going to the bread mecca. Immediately after we arrive, I plan to drag my jet-lagged body, suitcases and all, straight to Poilane bakery.

I don't think I'll have any problem ordering bread. There are a total of 23 words in my French vocabulary, and 20 of them relate to dough. I think that's a pretty good ratio. (Stupid American bakers.) Finding a bathroom or a hospital might be a problem, but gosh darn it, I can find bread.

By happy coincidence, a recent Tuesdays with Dorie project was the lovely French batard pictured above. I was so pleased with this project that I made it twice just to prove I could replicate the slashes. (I did it!) Lovely, aren't they? And tasty, too. For a bread, the recipe is pretty straightforward and quick (maybe 4-5 hours, start to finish), but it doesn't yield a real depth of flavor. Still, the loaves are perfect for sandwiches and a million times better than store-bought bread, so I will keep this in the repertoire for the many occasions when I need a pretty, fast solution for kids' lunches or when I need a dinner date for my soup.

In the meantime, I've immersed myself in Chad Robertson's inimitable Tartine Bread cookbook. Having now memorized the entire 78-page basic bread recipe, I'm battling on the front lines with a  sourdough starter, metric equivalents, and (usually) floating leavens. I've entered a whole new stage of bread-ucation, and it's not for the faint of heart. Case in point: My family has been forced to eat 7 loaves of gummy, vinegary breads sporting nearly impenetrable crust in the past 10 days. Butter helps, but still, that's a lot of bad bread.

My technique is improving with each loaf; it's just a lot to learn.  In the movie of my life, this would be the "Tammy tackles the hardest bread recipe in the world" montage. At the end of the montage, I emerge, a victorious and confident sourdough breadmaster. But we are nowhere near the end.

The haj to Paris will give me a much-needed break from my studies, and it will allow me to obsess about someone else's bread for a change.

If you've got any leads on good food in Paris, I'm all ears. (Yes, that was a bread pun. But I also really want to know where else to eat!)

Au revoir!


  1. Oh have fun- so jealous and can't wait to hear how the bread eating fest goes. And best of luck with the continued sourdough experiment.

  2. Lovely looking loaves! Enjoy the bread, and Paris too!

  3. yeah, I also thought that these made a tasty white bread, but not a real baguette. I'm recently back from a week in the south of France myself (where I ate baguette everyday), so I'm going to try making them again soon.

    enjoy your trip to Paris!! (take a peek at David Lebovitz's blog...he always writes about great-sounding Parisian restaurants and food shops)


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