The quarantine of 2020 will be remembered for many things we’d rather forget (bleach injections, anyone?), but the DIY baking trend is not among them. For the last many weeks, we’ve all been baking as if we are in a collective home ec class, overseen not by a weary high school teacher but via Zoom, Instagram and the various rabbit holes of the internet. Here are a few more burrows to explore when you’re up at 3 a.m. thinking about baking.
Josey Baker’s Instagram feed
If you have not yet discovered the San Francisco baker Josey Baker (yes, that’s his real name), then you are in for a treat. Baker is a goofy guy, with a penchant for tie-dye and bread loafers, but he has the skills of a grizzled European guildsman. He has a terrific bread book,“Josey Baker Bread,” published in 2014 , but he’s lately been doing Instagram videos demonstrating his techniques. His basic sourdough recipe is fantastic for both neophytes and veterans, and the same can be said for the rest of his instructions, which are easy to follow, sometimes hilarious and invariably successful. Plus:Jake Gyllenhaal.
Online shopping at Polâine
None of us are going to Europe anytime soon, but for the air-mail-inclined, the famous Paris boulangerie Polâine offers overnight shipping. You can order its famous massive loaf of Polâine bread and plenty more: knives, bannetons, bread boards, bread boxes, salt, jam,the cookbook and the addictive shortbread cookies called punitions, which can be ordered with a cookie tin. It’s pricey for sure, but there are few gifts as impressive to splurge on for your bread-baking-obsessed friends.
Bread scoring techniques
Reddit,YouTube,Pinterest and good old-fashionedblogs all have many online tips on bread-scoring, the art of engraving patterns on dough with razor blades just before loading it into a hot oven. (Fire, knives and razor blades: Baking is a lot more entertaining than you might think!) My new favorite is a feed from Tel Aviv called Morgi’s Dough Engineering (from a construction project manager who bakes for his friends and family), because of the use of colors, what I assume is dental floss and a mesmerizing spinning cake wheel.
A Michelin chef’s bread obsession
Gary Menes, whose eight-seat restaurant Le Comptoir has repeatedly been on our 101 Best Restaurants list, has long had a sourdough bread fixation. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s eaten at his restaurant, where he cooks with vegetables he grows in his Long Beach garden, brews coffee he sources like French wine, barbecues on his VW-sized backyard smoker and makes his own marmalade.Menes’ Instagram feed is a paean to his boules, which he sold to diners who had reserved them and now bakes to order. His starter is a quarter-century old, and he discusses pans, techniques, flour and hydration percentages as easily as he posts about his vegetables, his kids and his time at the French Laundry.
Dominique Ansel’s online classes
If you want something a little less homey, French pastry chef extraordinaire Dominique Ansel is one of a few high-profile chefs (also Massimo Bottura, Gabriela Cámara and more) who are offeringonline classes. The Ansel package includes 17 classes in pastry and dessert techniques covering laminated dough, tempered chocolate, tart-making and his famous Cronut. The $180 price includes access to all classes for two people.
Bread Project Worldwide
Bread Project Worldwide was started by two photographer-writers, Mirjam Letsch and Hans De Clercq, and Johan Pater, a third-generation baker who wanted to chronicle global bread-baking traditions. The result is an ongoing collection of photographs collected for an upcoming book. The photos and videos, collected onInstagram andFacebook, feature bakers from many countries, including Kosovo, Finland, Hungary, India, Lapland, Uganda, Iran and more, and the bakers and baking traditions still found there. With the project on hold during the global shutdown, it’s a great time for all of us to catch up.