Friday, November 2, 2012

Advanced French Breads and New York Hurricanes

Over there, around the corner, up on top of the hill.......

There sits Klecko on a throne of regret.

When you are a Pollack, when you are the last born, when your immaturity level is high......

It's natural to be a smart a**.

About 350 some Blog Posts ago, I recall writing a rant entitled something like......

The French or New Yorkers, who do you hate more?

If I recall, it got more bounce than a fat kid on a trampoline on my Facebook wall.

When I posed this question, I was mostly talking about the French and New Yorkers in "Baking Terms", however......both of these camps have strong identities that make it easy for people to point fingers at.

Both camps are proud.

Both camps are resilient.

And both camps coincidentally resurfaced into this bakers mundane life this week.

Just days ago Hurricane Sandy slammed the eastern seaboard, and so much damage was done it seemed so daunting.

I sent texts back and forth with Nico "The Scone Widows Daughter" and she said her and her boyfriend had been living at an equivalent to a Motel 6 just out of NYC on the Jersey side.

The 2 of them just moved out there, and they placed their belongings in a monthly storage locker on Staten Island.

Odds are all of their gear is trashed.

When the storm hit, the staff at their hotel ditched for 72 hours.

Everybody just sat in darkness.

Everybody sat silently and wondered if the populace was going to erupt like it did at the Louisiana Dome during Katrina where people raped and murdered one another in the process of survival.

But everybody pretty much chilled.

Nico is on a program where she needs to get to a methadone clinic each day.

This takes gas.

Yesterday they sat in a line for 3 hours, only to find out gas would not be available.

I am worried, and I am not.

As much grief as I have given chefs and bakers from New York.....they are proud, they are resilient.....and, they practice mercy.

Nico is going to be OK, New York will save her.

I believe this with all my heart.

I could go on and on about how horrified I have been by this weather tragedy, but you have CNN for things like that.

As soon as I post this post, it is off to bed for a couple of hours, and then back to the bakery to set up our French Retail sale.

Like the New Yorkers, I have been harsh on my French colleagues, but truth be told......

Sure, they can be so......well, so French I guess, but I gotta tell ya, those cats can bake.

Many consumers view French breads as baguettes mixed with a lean dough (flour-water-salt and yeast), or maybe a brioche........but they have such a strong collection of terrific, changing recipes.

Let me just scratch the surface and explain some of the French loaves I worked on throughout the day.

#1 The Normandy Loaf -

When you make a "Normandy" there are 2 basic rules........

The first one is that the entire liquid content of the bread dough has to be apple juice.

The second one is that your flour weight has to be divided into 3 equal parts of Patent Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, and Rye.

When this is mixed together, the final product doesn't look all that sexy.

There are no bells and whistles.....

But this is a good, hearty bread that will take you to the gate of heaven and back.

#2 Honey-Brie-Millet Loaves -
This bread is sweet, soft and almost candy like, however the millet (which is mixed into the interior, and egg washed onto the crumb wall) gives it a wonderful-wonderful texture.

#3 Red Wine / Black Pepper Sourdough -
Praise the saints of Paris.....the entire liquid base of this dough is dark red wine. I prefer Chianti if I get my druthers, but anything dark will do.

When you pull this bread out of the is Christ like. The smell is liberating and intoxicating. But bakers.....remember when you bake with all that extra booze in your bread, you'll want to bump your yeast and salt levels to compensate for the wine draining the yeasts energy.

Did I mention that if mixed properly.....your dough is a pinkish-blue?

#4 Dijon-Red Pepper-Mushroom Loaves -

In my humble opinion,  I really think that the Christ not only died for your sins....but so you could have the bounty of this bread as well.

It is nothing short of a JACKPOT.

How often do you get to say that?

It is oh-so-tricky to make however, with the high level of Dijon mustard, and the moisture from the peppers and mushrooms.....this doesn't leave a lot of room for liquid.

But if you are patient, and play around with this formula.......


Anyways.....I will have about 50 different French items for sale.....

Apple Gruyere Coffee Cakes, Ham & Gruyere Puff Pastry, Almond Filled Croissants, Eclairs....blah-blah-blah,

Much of this, and without a doubt.....

The best of these pastry items were put together by Hennessy and her crew.

But with all this said..........

New York / New Jersey and the entire east coast of America, we are rooting for you.

And you French bakers.......I will always remain humbly in your debt.

The Last American Baker 


  1. More than ever, wish I lived closer! But will likely try my hand at mixing some wine into some dough this weekend.

  2. what a generous post. "those cats can bake!" so can you, cat.