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We Knead You: Saveur's 45 Best American Bread Loaves

By • May 4, 2012 • 9 Comments

All photographs by Todd Coleman for Saveur

In seventh grade, my English teacher asked us to write a one page essay about what our favorite food was and why. I chose bread. At the time, this seemed the absolutely obvious and necessary response — the biggest "No Duh" of my life. Bread was my favorite food. I considered it a texturally perfect creation, toasted just-so and consumed over newspapers or after school or during dinner with a few slow, steamy pulls. I never used butter, and only occasionally bothered with jam, because bread at my family dinner table was primarily a tool for transportation: how else was my Dad's unstoppably addictive tomato sauce going to get from our plates to our mouths? It's also worth noting that, back then, "bread" meant one of two things to me: French, from our neighborhood grocer, or classic San Francisco sourdough. An encounter with the latter usually meant I was digging into a bowl of cream-heavy clam chowder post-visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, at that one beautiful restaurant with the outdoor patio, oldies on the FM radio, and a permanently salty sting to the air. Ahh, the memories.

Suffice it to say, I adored bread and was heartbroken when my middle school classmates reacted to my paper with merciless teasing. "Bread!?" they hooted, waving their own papers in my direction. "What about lasagna? Cheeseburgers? Banana splits?" These were all obviously smart choices — a more complex foodstuff would probably equate to a more interesting paper, but I just liked my darn bread, you know?

Ever since then, I've been hungry to find others who share in my doughy delirium. Bakers, food writers, self-confessed bread enthusiasts, French people (joking!), so you can imagine my excitement when I noticed the cover girl of this month's Saveur. Bread! An entire issue devoted to my most coveted food item. I bought it right away, of course, but only recently stumbled across their accompanying online photo gallery, Best American Bread. For it, they sampled hundreds of loaves from aristan bakeries across the entire country, and parsed their findings down to 45 of the most essential, must-seek-them-out-immediately loaves. Before I die of happiness, a quick recap of the most covetable: 

Olive Loaf from Wild Flour Bread (Freestone, CA)

"Lusty" olives and toasted black nigella seeds are what make this organic sourdough shine. Wer'e sure the eucalyptus wood-fired oven they're baked in doesn't hurt, either.  

Benton's Bacon Onion Bread from H&F Bread Company at Lucy's Market (Atlanta, GA)

A loaf of sourdough filled with hunks of hickory smoked contry bacon and caramelized onions?  A noble goal for any ambitious road-tripper.

American Harvest Cranberry Wild Rice from Bit of Swiss (Stevensville, MN)

A unique take on the traditoinal Native American preparation of cranberries and wild rice, Bit of Swiss punches up this fragrant loaf by adding oranges to the dough.

Rye Ficelle from Bien Cuit (Brooklyn, NY)

Sometimes, the classic-with-a-twist formula really, really works. Such is the case with this slow-fermented, satisfyingly chewy rye. Perfectly shaped for tearing off that covetable end piece during your walk home.

Seeded Fougasse from Standard Baking Company (Portland, ME)

This seed-studded loaf is described, simply, as "the best everything bagel on Earth." That's literally all we need to hear — we're there. 

Bread & Chocolate from Berkshire Mountain Bakery (Housatonic, MA)

A "dense sourdough boule studded with bittersweet Callebaut chunks." You had us at hello, my dear. 

 

Jump to Comments (9)

Comments (9)

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over 2 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Oh Cassie, the cruelty of youth! But you survived it, lived to tell the tale and also discover that there are passionate 'breadies' (that doesn't sound right,.....does it?) out there! I've found flavour inspiration for future loaves, so thank you.

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over 2 years ago Ruhht

Bring on the bread!! Really great article! Spent an hour at the weekend listening to the science of baguettes on French radio and it really brings a new admiration for master bakers. There's even a French research division studying why the dough inside baguettes comes out the texture it does. I'd much rather just keep eating them though...

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over 2 years ago Tracy A.

I think that i would probably choose bread as my essay topic as well. My eyes still mist over at the sight, smell, sound, touch and taste of a wonderful loaf of bread.

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over 2 years ago cassiem

s your favorite kind?

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over 2 years ago Tracy A.

Rye bread - how about you?

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over 2 years ago cassiem

They very same. In fact, at this very moment I'm doing some research on how to make a real dark, "authentic" rye. I want to try my hand at this: http://www.saveur.com/article...

Yum!

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over 2 years ago Tracy A.

Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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over 2 years ago nzle

I love that tiny Cassie went straight for the carbs!! And I CAN'T STOP THINKING about bread with Benton's bacon inside of it.

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over 2 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Now you make me want to fit a trip to Momofuku....when I'm in NYC in June just so I can try Benton's bacon!