Monday, April 5, 2010

A Lahey Bread That's Not For Me

This loaf is a bit of departure for Jim Lahey, bread genius and founder of Sullivan Street bakery. I've been cooking my way through his cookbook, My Bread, since James bought it for me this past Christmas. Lahey's specialty are crusty, artisinal Italian-style breads made easy for the home (and I guess, professional) baker.
This crisp brown "Irish" bread is Lahey's take on that nation's traditional soda bread. Just as the name suggests soda breads -- whether whole wheat, chocolate, or, as tradition prescribes, dotted with sweet raisins are generally leavened with baking soda and buttermilk for the acidic reaction. Lahey's uses yeast and buttermilk and pretty much follows the no-knead method he pioneered for all his other breads.
I can't say I was wowed by the results. When in the presence of greatness (or great recipes) I am always willing to admit I may be at fault or have made some mistake along the way, but honestly this bread seemed like a poor compromise. It had neither soda bread's slightly tangy flavor and hearty texture or Lahey's usual airy, soft "did you really make that yourself" crumb.
Lahey's breads are great the way they are -- I say don't dress them up, don't make them into something they are not, don't pretend to be (although Lahey himself might actually be) Irish. Bake where your heart is and the results will always impress.

No comments:

Post a Comment