Friday Bread Basket 12/10/21
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain. This week’s email has a lot of personal items in it, because there’s been a lot happening on that front. But as always I also have some bready things from elsewhere to share as well.
Great Pumpkin Spice
The first thing I want to mention is that you really ought to order some of my friend Alicia Kennedy’s new Burlap & Barrel Pumpkin Spice Blend. I’m sort of meh on the idea of “pumpkin spice” as a blend, but knew I had to try hers. And now I get it: pumpkin spice is often cinnamon-heavy and kind of dull, while this stuff is heady and intoxicating. It is way more complex than others I’ve encountered: the freshness of the spices is obvious, and the coriander and ginger it contains crank the heat on the warm spice to subtropical levels.
Not only will this blend make a great addition to your larder—and/or a great gift for that of others—it will prove useful here, because I am going to send out a recipe featuring it in the coming weeks, one that I am very excited for.
On October 5, some 1400 union workers at four plants at Kellogg Co. went on strike after their union contract expired and wage and benefits negotiation stalled. While the workers striked, Kellogg hired temporary replacement workers, and now has announced it plans to walk away from negotiations with the union and make the temporary hires permanent.
The union rejected the new contract proposal in part because they say it is meant to undermine their own leverage over the company:
Union members have said the proposed two-tier system, in which transitional employees get lesser pay and benefits compared to longer-tenured workers, would take power away from the union by removing the cap on the number of lower-tier employees.
Several politicians including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have backed the union, while many customers have said they are boycotting Kellogg's products.
I don’t know about you, but I sure won’t be eating Froot Loops anytime soon.
Supply-chain woes have hit the bagel industry, thanks to a shortage in cream cheese:
Zabar’s is running low. Tompkins Square Bagels is down to sticks. Pick-a-Bagel has only a few days’ supply left.
All over New York City, bagel makers say, a schmear shortage is threatening one of the most treasured local delicacies: a fresh bagel with cream cheese.
“This is bad. This is very bad,” said Pedro Aguilar, a manager at the Pick-a-Bagel chain, which has several Manhattan locations. On Friday afternoon, Mr. Aguilar said he had only enough cream cheese to last until Monday.
The good news is that—for now at least—the shortages only effect bagel shops and not supermarkets, because it involves unprocessed, unwhipped cream cheese used to make cream cheese blends. So far, blocks of Philadelphia and other brands remain stocked on grocery store shelves. (Which means it is time to start making your bagels at home, if you aren’t already.)
That upcoming baguette workshop of mine isn’t the only foray back into baguette making I’ve been doing lately, since I’ve also been at work on an authentic banh mi roll recipe, something I’ve wanted to tackle for years. (I helped test Andrea Nguyen’s recipe in her excellent Banh Mi Handbook, but good as that recipe is, it doesn’t quite match up to the one of my dreams.) Which was why I was glad to stumble across this ballad to the banh mi roll from Austin Bush in the LA Times:
A zillion articles have been written about banh mi, Vietnam’s justifiably beloved and famous sandwich. But much of what has been said about the bread element of the dish isn’t exactly glowing praise. Mocked as low-quality, accused of being a baguette impostor, exoticized by spurious claims of rice flour, banh mi bread suffers from bad press.
Yet I knew firsthand that cooks, chefs and bakers outside of Vietnam have struggled to re-create this very specific carb. Surely banh mi bread is more than just a knockoff baguette, I thought, and to find out what makes it unique, I went to the source.
The story includes a roll recipe created by Andy Ricker of Pok Pok that I plan to test soon. (Though I am skeptical of its call for “dough improver” as an ingredient.)
Finally, I have another item from a friend and a collaboration to share: Camilla Wynne, of Jam Bake fame, is teaching a workshop on marmalade-making next month (Sunday, January 16) that I know you are going to want to attend. High citrus season is almost upon us, and this class is the perfect way to prepare for it. And if you do, you’ll gain access to an exclusive recipe for an oat-porridge, whole-grain soda bread (pictured above)—an excellent platform for marmalade—that she is going to hand out during the class. (The recipe is part of a larger package of soda bread recipes I am working on to share here early next year.)
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. I hope you all have a peaceful and egg-nogged weekend.