Archive for the ‘Bread Recipes’ Category

Cool Pizzas and Breads in February

Yea, it’s cold standing in a giant parking lot in February but as I monitored the weather channels over the past few days, I saw a window of opportunity this Saturday to bake some killer breads and pizza variants. I made the pan pizza (above) that was my ode to a pizza I saw at the Campo di Fiori in Rome, Italy. This pizza carried sliced zucchini and Peruvian purple potatoes tossed in egg and Parmesano and baked on a wonderfully creamy and crunchy Sicilian-style dough with an aged mozzarella and provolone.  The best part was the creamy Bellwether Farms Crescenza, from Sonoma County, California.  In spite of the cold weather, we sold out in a few hours. Thank you sunshine, farmer’s market customers, Avalanche General Manager Joel Fair, the staff and Laura for hanging out in the cold.


I recognize that my culinary efforts sometime skirt the realm of madness but I ignore it because the Italian kimchi I made (top left) was the BOMB! Just like Korean kimchi, I used the traditional combo of fish, garlic and chilies. My creation consisted of napa cabbage, roasted garlic, lemon zest, sun-dried tomato pesto, anchovies ground into a paste,  some excellent imported Calabrian chilies and oil for a great zing. I used King Family pork to make some fabulous meatballs (above middle) with chopped garlic, pizza cornicione breadcrumbs, red onion, rosemary, fennel seed, fresh basil, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I made a a poolish on Tuesday of almost 100% hydration that spent the night in my mixer. On Wednsday morning, I mixed a Bianca dough with a high protein flour and 70% hydration using the autolyse method. See the gluten net as I tested the window pane (photo above right).


You may think this is high-maintenance but the glorious pizza these maddening combinations produced was spectacular! The Bianca dough came out great (above left) and I topped the dough with aged provolone and mozzarella, the Italian kimchi, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella for a big OMG! The pizzas sold out incredibly fast (above right). Man, you should’ve smelled these bad boys as they popped out!


Along with the above monstrosity, I had time to put together my favorite combo: Gruyere cheese and curry (above left). I roasted onions with curry powder and then added raisins to re-hydrate. I used a 16-ounce schiacciata dough topped with fresh spinach, the curry mix and imported Gruyere! Holy Moly is all I can say. I also made a smaller but equally potent schiacciata with a harder dough called “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Swiss” (above right). Ironically, this had absolutly no cheese made in Switzerland. The Finlandia Swiss and the stronger French Emmental paired with local ham, bacon and some shaved imported Serrano ham I just picked up.


The breads I made included the massive Flintstone Wheel (a Tortano-style uber-couronne, photo top left), my lebanese Barbari using local Amish spelt from Shagbark Milling and Seed with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and toasted cumin seeds (shown in the middle), and the sea salt and herb fougasse with extra virgin olive oil (above left).


I just love making ciabatta loaves! This weekend we made some large loaves (left) with a local spelt couronne studded with cherry and walnut. We also made a small ciabatta (middle) into two types of sandwiches: the first an imported Serrano ham from Spain with arugula, pistachio pesto, tomato and imported brie, and the second a Caprese sandwich with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato. I especially love looking at the crumb on ciabatta because of the irregular cells and the shiny gluten strands that indicate a killer loaf!


Last but not least is the always popular Leek-a-choke fougasse (above left) with leeks, artichoke and parmesan cheese. A very special fougasse I made this weekend included a Thai-inspired flair (above middle) and included pad Thai, roasted napa cabbage integrated with local peppered bacon, pickled local Amish daikon and tons of black and white sesame seeds. As the fougasse rested, I topped it with a four-month-old curried kimchi that I marinated in a Thai peanut sauce for three days. Man, talk about FLAVOR in capital letters!

Anyway, if you’re still with me and my mania, check out this video before the market at set-up time. I screwed up some introductions like saying ‘Fiore del campo” instead of Campo del Fiore and some other stuff but that’s what you get when an old man bakes all night. For those of you wondering, yes: my hands are sanitized.

Stalking Jean Paul Souliet, Master Baker of the Cote d’ Or

Master Baker Jean Paul sure had me doing “doubletakes,” because he looked and even had mannerisms of Robert DeNiro!

Last month, after three days travel through Switzerland, Italy and Monaco, we decided to visit the best wine country in the world and finally reached our destination at a small town in the Cote d’ Or France. Our base of operations near Beaune was in wonderful castle turret turned into a luxury suite at Manor Equivocal in Moux, which is very small and near Corgoloin, France, which is very small. 

 When we arrived, our awesome host, Irene reccommended we stop by the bakery run by a guy named Jean Paul in a neighboring town called Comblanchein. (I gotta say, if you are ever in this part of France, the Manor Equivocal is the bomb!) We even made a side trip to a 13th century wine cellar, (below.) The it was off to stalk Jean Paul.


Jean Paul had no idea so we made a plan to stalk him down just like we did with Chef Joel Rubechon in Monaco. So we got up at 3:40 a.m. and drove through the countryside to the small bakery armed only with a small note written by Irene that probably went like this; “Hey Jean Paul, these guys say they are crazy pizza guys but appear to be more on the scummier side, they forced me to tell them where you bake, sorry!” Well, we waited, and waited. Little did we know that it was a holiday! Jean Paul took an extra two hours sleep time…this made us go a little crazy in the car because the Police kept circling around every ten minutes and there was no coffee, and we had only two hours sleep ourselves and…this video sums up our state of mind. (This clip is Rated R for language, immaturity, Police paranoia and indescrete bodily functions.

 I gotta admit that meeting Jean Paul was worth the wait. To say that he is a master of the baguette is an understatement. He is a consumate Michael Jackson fan and his continuous loop of the King of Pop songs played well into the afternoon as we baked and baked. It seemed as though Jean Paul was baking for the whole country but he said that it was only half of what he usually bakes. Here he is explaining part of his technique, (I left out some great secrets.)


In no time, Jean Paul put us to work and put up with all our stupid baking questions.


We baked croissant, seeded loaf, baguette and demi as well as a few batard. Check  out the crumb on the seeded loaf, (below.)

Both Bruno and I learned alot from meeting Chef Souliet, but what impressed me the most was to be around someone so dedicated to his craft. Modern society has dictated so long that once you are successful, you must expand to become owner, then open more stores, then  become CEO, thus ensuring the gap between you and your product. The true craftsman are hard to find these days and I am glad we found Jean Paul.


 Don’t believe me, just look below at how he holds this baguette- it’s not just a piece of bread, it’s a piece of Jean Paul, Master Baker.