Now that the snow is melting, turning the city into a gritty wet mess, it's time to pick the winner of the snowpocalypse bread baking challenge. There were about two dozen entries to the contest, posted on Flickr, with some amazing breads, many by first time bakers. It was hard to pick a winner (after all, I didn't get to try the bread), but based on the pictures, I could tell which ones were great.
What was I looking for? A loose crumb with nice bubbles cooked perfectly with a slightly dark crust, and just the feel of great home made bread. So without further delay, the winners are:
The gold medal to first-time baker Amanda at Metrocurean:
Amanda used the no-knead bread recipe (her slice of bread with butter is also pictured above). This was a very close call as the silver medal went to another newbie baker, Tom G. But Metocurean edged him out with her crust -- it was darker, slightly carmelized, and the bread had a very airy look. But it was very close, similar to the 2/100's of a second win in the downhill race at the Olympics. So here's a tip for bakers -- leave your breads in the oven a few minutes longer than you think is wise. The crust, with darkened bits, improves.
Here's the bread (above) by Tom G., which sprung up nicely.
The remaining breads get honorable mentions. The Irish Brown Bread took the bronze medal and would have won in the fruited bread category (if there were one). Pictured below, it looks delicious and I gather the baker, with the screen name Governmentality, has been plowing his way through Jim Lahey's book, My Bread.
This was a wonderful example of Challah as well, by Julie Sea, pictured below.
Finally, this no-knead bread by Caroline was superb, though I think it could have benefitted from a tad longer bake.
The winner gets Jim Lahey's book (courtesy of his publisher) so we can expect more great things from Amanda. But for all those who participated, keep baking. There is nothing that compares with home-made bread, where even the failures are edible (and if they are not, cut them into croutons and toast them in the oven.)
- Samuel Fromartz.