Monday, January 14, 2008

Christmas Loaves

Of all places, I found inspiration in a supermarket.

Shortly before Christmas we were in McLean and in need of a good spot to meet a friend staying in Loudon County. She suggested the cafe of a Wegman's grocery store, which is how I found myself mesmerized by the spectacle of team of Wegman's bakers feeding a monstrous cylindrical oven. The oven floor on this beast rotated and was driven by a large circular crank placed by its mouth. The baker would slide a handful of loaves into the oven. Turn the crank. Extract some golden loaves and slide in a handful more. Brilliant! But what was she doing there with that paper and wire mesh strainer filled with flour? I leaned over the Plexiglas divider. "Sample! Mister! Sample! Merry Christmas!" I was assaulted by a dramatic Korean assistant baker with a basket filled with samples. When I regained my composure (I startle easily) I could see the baker sifting flour over a paper stencil onto proofed boules. There, on the cooling rack I could see the result -- loaves adorned with snowflakes, stars and Christmas ornaments.

Not to be outdone by a supermarket, I went to work as soon as I got home. I shaped the doughs as usual but scored the top so as to leave a nice square of undisturbed dough. I spritzed them to make the dough surface nice and sticky and sprinkled flour from a mesh strainer over top a Christmas tree cutout, lightly tapping the side of the strainer. They came out pretty well, though placing them in paper bags proved a little damaging to the design.


BoSox Siobhan said...

OK - I've waited long enough. It's still cold and snowy up here -- I need some stories of home-baked carbs to keep me warm. Please don't make me beg!

The Cook said...

This blog is so cute! I'll have to tackle bread sometime soon on my blog. :)

Seth said...

Hi! I've been checking out your blog for a few months as I prepare to build myself a backyard oven very similar to yours.

Did you end up adding a chimney to your oven? And if not, are yo happy with the choice?

Thanks a ton for all the helpful info and inspiration!

Seth from Los Angeles