Sunday, March 11, 2007

Austrian Bread - Schwartzbrot

This past weekend I was inspired to begin a quest for Austrian brown bread in New York City. This is the bread that Melik grew up with and what we all started our mornings with on a recent ski trip to the alps. I've never had anything quite like it in the states. It's got to be here somewhere, right? If I can't find it in New York, then I'm guessing I can't find it anywhere. I googled the ingredients to Austrian brown bread (schwartzbrot) and so started my search for elusive loaf. Supposedly it's a blend of wheat and rye flour. I thought I'd start by testing out a few loafs with that same blend.

I took this opportunity to venture out to the west side and the famous Chelsea market that takes up a city block that was once an oreo factory in the city. There are about 10 gourmet food stores and the production facilities of several companies, one being the food network. Winding down the wide hallway, admiring uber-fancy cupcake stores and groceries, we came upon Amy's Bread. Amy's Bread was started in 1992 in a small Hell's Kitchen store and has grown to 100 employees and 200 wholesale deliveries. Today, they produce most of their bread at the location in Chelsea Market. What's even more interesting, at least to me, is that you can watch the entire process behind glass windows in the market.

I stood outside for a few minutes, watching the different loaves being made, from the initial blending of ingredients, the separation into loaves, the rising of these yeasty conconctions, and the eventual baking. It was mesmerizing. Melik finally dragged me away to the store proper and we decided to try 2 different loaves, a french rye and an organic miche. Both of these loaves had the blend of flours we desired but looked completely different from one another.

We brought our new-found treasures home to see if anything resembled the brown bread we were after. The French rye, although the loaf looked similar, lacked something in flavor. Perhaps it wasn't tangy enough? We both agreed the organic miche was superior and more closely resembled the brown bread. It wasn't an exact replica, but it was an ok substitution. It doesn't look like the loaf we had in Austria but the taste is similar. So I guess the search is still on for the quintessential brown bread.

THE WINNER (for now)organic miche.jpg

THE RUNNER UPfrench rye.jpg