Bread is back. There’s no doubt about it. With the rising popularity of local, artisan foods comes the opportunity for a renewed love affair with our bakers. I never could understand, not did I ever embrace, eliminating “carbs” from my diet in an effort to lose weight. May the days of designating any one food group the culprit for our caloric excess be gone forever. Now, let’s eat some bread.
The Flaxette, a tasty baguette with a lovely exterior crunch and dense, chewy interior has arrived in Fairfield. I picked up a fresh loaf at The Pantry on the Post Road and left two lonely loaves behind. When I contacted the baker, Michael Mordecai of Fairfield Bread Company, to let him know I scored some of his bread and that the stock was bare, he said “yes, it’s pretty much selling out at the other outlets too.”
When I asked what made this bread so fabulous, Michael’s replied “my heart belongs to bread.” The detailed description of ingredients and baking processes that followed could only come out of the mouth of a fellow corporate dropout. Michael was formerly an economic consultant whose briefs landed on desks at The White House, Congressional Committees and the International Trade Commission. I’m drawing a strong connection between the commitment to task and detailed thinking necessary to do that job and what it takes to be a top baker. Don’t laugh, I knew a hedge fund manager who secretly wanted to be a pastry chef!
Michael explained that he used “King Arthur flour milled from hard red spring wheat that’s grown in the Northern Plains and Canada. King Arthur, a 100% employee owned company, is headquartered in Vermont. Whole wheat flour and organic ground flax seeds are the other main ingredients and the organic flax is grown in Manitoba Canada. I’m sure you know the health benefits of flax; it also adds a distinctive nutty, toasted flavor, and a slight crackle to the texture. Filtered water, sea salt and minimal yeast combine with the long period of enzymatic activity. The flavor develops through four proofing stages and then I bake the hand-shaped loaves to create a caramelized crust with a tender, chewy interior.”
If you don’t finish your baguette on day one, don’t fret; Michael assured me that the shelf life of The Flaxette is longer than most breads. Follow Michael’s instructions and you can’t go wrong: “Day two still finds it wonderful “as is”, but even better sprinkled with water and baked for 10 minutes at 350. Day three? The reviving process will yield an excellent bread. Or, toast and top with salmon, onions and capers; or cut into croutons for soup or salad, or to snack on; or made a killer chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce. French toast? Yes! The Flaxette freezes extremely well in its fresh state wrapped tightly in foil or plastic, then unwrapped and baked frozen at 425 for 10 minutes.”
I put Michael’s economic theory that day two Flaxette was as good as day one, and surprisingly he’s right. Magically, this bread stays fresh for two days and was a hit in sandwiches for school lunch. We need some of that magic baked into our economy!
The Flaxette is available at The Pantry in Fairfield, Spic ‘n Span Market in Southport and the former Stiles Market in Westport, now confusingly called the Westport Farmers’ Market. Contact: Michael Mordecai, Fairfield Bread Comany LLC, 203-434-4505.