WheatStalk 2014


Bread as a Food Writer’s Muse

Last weekend I attended the Bread Bakers Guild of America event, which was held at Kendall College in Chicago. In classrooms and labs, the lone food writer here met teachers, bakers, millers, oven builders, and suppliers.


IMG_20140921_143514190(2)Here’s the upshot of tasting the most excellent breads and learning about excellence in bread and pizza baking:

  1. I’m now mapquesting the grain elevator in Washington State that turned into an Italian restaurant.
  2. I’m lulling myself to sleep with the new vocabulary of purple wheat, spelt, emmer, kamut, sorghum, einkorn, and teff.
  3. I’m jotting down all the assumptions underpinning my belief that bread is back. (These folks say it never left.)
  4. I’ve learned that New Yorkers may like a semolina loaf with golden raisins and fennel. But the good ol’ baguette—that’s right, white bread—sells better.
  5. My informal survey of master bakers coast to coast revealed that baguettes are the #1 crowd pleaser, the loaf that moves the most, and the reason there’s a line out the bakery door. Just don’t eat it if it’s more than 4 hours old. Really.
  6. And, finally, I crossed paths with the Yeast Whisperer on the banks of the Chicago river, both of us standing watch over Kendall’s wood-fired brick oven where Peter Reinhart showed how to make remarkable pizza with oven-roasted tomatoes and basil.          IMG_20140919_153156854

Am not sure my Android cellphone camera does any explaining about a moist crumb, an airy structure, dimensions of flavor or natural sweetness, certainly not the boost of vitamins and minerals inside. But trust me, some of these dark crusts actually have undertones of chocolate and coffee.

Not a bad thing to wake up to. That, and a billowy brioche, tricky to make but long overdue for a comeback.

2 responses to “WheatStalk 2014

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