Issue 7: Artisan Bread
This month's issue is an ode to all things gluten.
Join us as we nurture our own sourdough at home, map the essential bakeries in Toronto, experiment with challah, and interview one of the city's up-and-coming bakers.
It’s 1:00am on a Saturday night. Or is it early Sunday morning? Nick and I are waiting in a dark alley in North York. Cutting across the back parking lot of a weathered strip mall, we’re startled by what seems to be a motion-sensored light above an open door, leading to an empty lit staircase. Weird. There’s no one there. If you didn’t know us any better, you’d think that we were first-time buyers of a crooked drug deal.
Perhaps it's challah's intricate braiding that called us to it. Or the way its crust glows with tantalizing luster when it emerges from the oven. Or its softly yielding crumb, fluffy with just a hint of sweetness. Perhaps it's all of these things. Whatever the reason, we definitely didn't turn to baking this bread because we keep Kosher.
There’s nothing like a piece of warm bread slathered in slowly melting butter.
Or a hearty crust softening as it bathes in the remains of a rich stew. Or a baguette being entirely devoured before you know it, one bite at a time, each morsel a faithful craft for the decadent cheeses and earthy pâtés carefully selected for your board. We are a bread-loving household, but we were also a bread-fearing one not long ago. For years, Nick was Paleo and I regarded bread as a treat, in the same way a triple chocolate cake is a treat. Eating bread was a guilty pleasure. But what were we guilty of, exactly?
There's flour everywhere. It's pervasive. It's in my hair and smeared across my apron. There's a fine dusting of the stuff on every surface of my house - cooking space or not. But it's not this wheat invasion that's concerning me; it's the amorphous mass of flour and water in front of me, mocking me. I'm trying to make bread, and it's going horribly.