Edible Vancouver Autumn 2011 : Page 28
Lucia and Bobby, knowing that their bread graces a neighbour’s table feels almost like sitting at the dinner table themselves. Bobby’s baking is home-style baking at its best. He takes no short cuts, and everything is made in small batches, starting at around ﬁve o’clock in the morning, with slow-rising sourdough bread that is leavened with starters—one rye and one white, cultured from ale—that he cultivates himself. The rest of the day’s baking is pri-oritized according to special orders, daily features, and regular menu items. Then it’s non-stop baking until closing, loaf after crostata after cake after cookie after croissant, sliding into the oven, then out onto cooling racks. This small-batch approach means that intoxicating wheaty-buttery-yeasty aromas waft out the door and down the side-walk to envelope (and lure!) unsuspecting passersby all day long. So if you’re having trouble deciding which treat to purchase, take your cue from one East Village frequenter who asks not what’s fresh, but “What’s warm?” Or, as I was pleased to learn from a fellow customer as I stood in line to purchase my Saturday morning loaf of challah, “Try the pain au chocolat ,” he said to me in an authoritative French accent. Or if you’re looking for something savoury, try the cheddar cheese sticks, which, I am told by yet another bakery regular, are downright addictive and “should have a warning sign on them!” My personal favourite is that sweet, crisp labour of love: the palmier . Indeed, there are many things to love about East Village Bakery. Whether it’s a still-warm loaf of Green Olive and Cracked Pepper Sourdough, or Lucia’s attentive display of breads and pastries, the couple’s commitment to home-style, Old World artistry is evident. East Village Bakery, 2166 East Hastings Street, Vancouver. 604-568-5600. eastvillagebakery.com Sarah Crowley Chestnut is a freelance writer and poet, a hopeful gardener, and an aspiring bread magician. She is documenting a year of Italian cooking (among other food fancies) at cucinacasalinga.wordpress.com She is yet to name her pet sourdough starter. Michael Yankoski is a wedding photographer, writer, and aspiring urban gardener. MichaelYankoski.com BRANDY-SPIKED AND BAKED CHALLAH FRENCH TOAST by Sarah Crowley Chestnut This dish is perfect for a weekend brunch, and is straight-up comfort food. The French call this traditional use of stale bread pain perdue —“lost bread.” If, somehow, you manage to let a loaf of East Village challah go stale (and it is unlikely that you will be able to restrain yourself long enough to do so), all is not lost. And even if the loaf isn’t stale, what could be better than an even eggier, egg-enriched—not to mention tipsy—bread? For an over-the-top holiday treat, substitute eggnog for the cream in the recipe. NOTE: Prepare this dish the night before (or in the morning— just give the bread at least 30 minutes to soak in the egg mixture before baking). Serves 3–4 ½ – ¾ of a loaf of East Village challah 5 eggs ¾ cup (175mL) milk ½ cup (125mL) cream, half-and-half, or eggnog 2–4 Tbsp (30–60mL) brandy, depending on how boozy you like your toast 1 Tbsp (15mL) vanilla extract ¼ cup (60mL) dark brown sugar, plus some for sprinkling on top before baking ¼ tsp (1mL) sea salt 1 tsp (5mL) cinnamon ½ tsp (2mL) nutmeg Enough butter to liberally grease an 8 x 8-inch pan, and more to dot the bread 28 | EDIBLE VANCOUVER AUTUMN 2011 Remove from the fridge to take the chill off while you heat your oven to 350ºF. Lightly sprinkle with dark brown sugar. Bake, uncovered, for 30–40 minutes, or until all the liquid is set. The result will be a crispy top layer and edges, and a soft, spiked, eggy bottom layer—delightful. Serve with maple syrup, whipped cream, and/or powdered sugar to top. Photo: Sarah Crowley Chestnut Liberally grease your baking dish with butter and set aside. Slice the challah, thickly, at a diagonal. Place in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk together all other ingredients. Pour the mixture over the challah, tossing to coat well. Allow the bread to soak up the egg mixture for a few minutes. Then fit the slices into the bottom of your pan, dotting with butter and tearing or cutting the somewhat soggy slices to best fit the pan. Add a second layer of bread on top of the first. Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread. Cover and refrigerate.