The Best Things We Tasted This Week: Bread and Pastry Edition

Levain with Fermented Black Garlic and Gruyere

Bread Artisan Bakery inspires a cult-like following where I find myself thumbing through Instagram to discover where next to find their bread pop-up shop. Based out of Santa Ana, this family-owned, European style wholesale bakery doesn’t have a retail outlet (online sales coming soon), so when a pop-up pops up, I’m ready. This week’s obsession is the levain (sourdough) made with fermented black garlic and gruyere cheese. It’s a big, satisfying loaf, meant to be sliced thickly and eaten just as it is or with a big green salad. I leave it out in my kitchen on a cutting board with a bread knife at the ready, and chip away chunky slices every time I pass by. With this treatment, most bread would dry out in no time, but not Bread Artisan’s levain, which is made using a centuries-old tradition of organically leavening bread with a flour and water culture. It’s a time-consuming process, but the result is worth the wait: bread with a thick, blistered crust and a moist, dense crumb.

Photo by Rye Goods Co.

Rye Croissant

We’re counting down the days until Rye Goods Co. bakery opens their brick and mortar in Newport Beach, so until then, Bear Coast Coffee is my go-to for a Rye Goods fix. The rye croissant is indicative of what makes baker/owner Sara Lezama’s bread and pastry so unique. She bakes with Abruzzi rye, a heritage grain with a low gluten content which she sources from Weiser Family Farms in Tehachapi. Her use of rye in her croissants results in a hearty texture, not at all meant to mimic the feathery texture of croissants made with ultra-fine, highly processed flour. Still moist and buttery, this croissant stands up perfectly to the strength of Bear Coast’s brew. It’s a beautiful combination that makes mornings great again. Word has it that Lezama will be offering bread baking classes at her new location, so you too can learn how to bake with rye.

Daily Scones

The daily selection of scones from Zinc Cafe & Market are positively scrumptious. Made in the American style (opposed to British style), Zinc Cafe’s scones are tender mounds of goodness, filled with a rotating selection of dried fruit like black currants. Somewhere between a biscuit and a muffin, non-scone-lovers may perceive this breakfast staple to be dry. Indeed, the outside is crusty, and the inside, crumbly, but the delectable hi-ratio of butter makes it tender at the same time and very hard to resist. For many, it’s a welcome diversion away from cake-like pastries like breakfast bread that are often just too sweet. Zinc Cafe nails pastry on every level. For a special occasion treat, you can’t go wrong with their sponge cake with fresh berries and lemon curd. The sweetened ricotta frosting makes it easy to go in for seconds.

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