I recently had the chance to spend a day in the Brooklyn kitchen of Alan Broner, one of the partners of Jacks Gourmet sausages. Not only does he make delicious sausages he is also a master bread maker. (He also smokes a phenomenal salmon). He invited me to come over so I could learn some tricks of the trade and taste the results of our hard work.
Before we got started on the bread-making, I have to tell you that Alan cooked me breakfast. He is such a foodie that he is always trying out new recipes. He came up with a kosher beef “bacon”. I have to say, it looked like the real thing. Never having tasted real bacon, I can’t say that it tasted the same, but boy did it taste good fried up with a couple of eggs. Salty…. But oh so good.
Alan has an insert for his oven that helps in baking the bread evenly. It’s called a HearthKit oven insert and turns a regular oven into a hearth oven which helps those crusts be extra crispy.
The day before I came, Alan had started the dough for the No Knead Bread – it needs at least 24 hours rising time. This was a fun bread to make – you just mix all the ingredients together, let it rise, pop it into a warmed ceramic or Pyrex baking dish and bake. Such a deliciously fluffy bread – perfect with butter and strawberry jam.
Alan uses a breadmaker just to mix the dough – never to bake it. When I bake bread I tend to do it all by hand – but I do have to say having the breadmaker knead the dough is less labor intensive and does allow you to concentrate on other things.
We made a lovely dark whole wheat bread using coffee as the darkening agent. I learned that molasses can also be used for this purpose as can cocoa. The recipe for this bread is top secret – but I will have to say that I plan to nag Alan until he shares it. I brought the loaf home for the family and they devoured every crumb. Alan taught me how to use a razor (!) to get those stunning lines on the top of the bread. Simple yet so elegant.
We also made a rye bread, which was my favorite by far. Alan explained to me how rye flour that you find in stores doesn’t give you that rye taste that you look for when eating rye bread. So he buys his online – and it’s a much deeper rye flavor. I learn that putting cornmeal under the dough helps it slide out of the pan very easily. A trick I have started using myself. What was so interesting when this bread came out of the oven, was when we put it on the cooling rack there was a low crackling noise – the crust starts to crack as the bread cools. The hard part with all the breads was waiting the 30 minutes until we could slice them. This rye loaf is perfect for your deli sandwiches – and once you make it yourself, you will never buy it from the store again. Nothing tastes as good as home baked bread.