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Friday Bread Basket 1/7/22
Holiday Backlog Edition
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain. It’s been nearly a month since I sent one of these out, which means I have something of a backlog of items to share, most of them related to holiday baking all but still relevant.
My friend Kevin Vaughn wrote & photographed a wonderful story for Saveur all about the Argentine city Mar del Plata’s industry of alfajores, filled sandwich cookies enrobed variously in chocolate or meringue, of which Argentinians apparently consume 11 some million per day:
When the wind sails over the ocean just right, the city of Mar del Plata smells like sugar melting in a pan of salted butter. Throughout this oversized beach town on Argentina’s Northern coast, the promise of something sweet wafts out of cafés, ice cream shops and bakeries, mixing with the heavy saltwater breeze. Churros crunch, crackle, and soil laps with sugary crumbs; chocolate-coated cannoli cradle ice cream centers; and borrachitos—rum- and syrup-soaked brioche—offer the perfect midday pick-me-up. But atop this altar of sugar, one sweet reigns supreme: the alfajor.
“Alfajores are the essential Mar del Plata souvenir,” shouts Cristina Colacci over a loudly grinding conveyor belt spitting dozens of blonde cookies into an oven. “If you don’t go home with a box of alfajores, were you even here?”
Kevin also recently shared a roundup of his best photographs of 2021, a collection that is definitely worth a visit.
WBUR’s Andrea Shea shared a story about why we home cooks have Boston Cooking School Cookbook author Fannie Farmer to thank for the standardization of recipes and for her pioneering work in reverse-engineering a recipe for Boston’s beloved Parker House rolls:
The holidays are here, and for many of us that means a lot of baking. Maybe you'll be reviving old family recipes or experimenting with some new ones. Either way, we all can thank a 19th century Boston-born cookbook author and domestic science pioneer for revolutionizing the way recipes are replicated at home — including the iconic Parker House rolls.
Perhaps you've heard of, tasted or even made them yourself. The melt-in-your-mouth baked good was born in the late-1800s at the Boston hotel of the same name where, today, they're still being being mixed, cut and pulled out of the oven.
“Parker House rolls get hit with butter two, often three times,” baker Sheri Weisenberger explained as she lifted a few dozen glimmering pillows off a hot tray.
Matteo de Mayda recently photographed and wrote an amazing piece for the New York Times about a men’s prison that is producing some of Italy’s best panettone:
Inside the Due Palazzi prison…on the outskirts of Padua, in northeastern Italy, a crew of inmates in white coats are supervised by four professional pastry chefs. Six days a week, they start baking at 4 a.m., beginning with the brioche that will be served by local pastry shops and hotels. Giotto also produces cookies, pies, nougat, chocolate and ice cream — but panettone is the specialty.
(Speaking of which: panettone is one of the holiday breads I plan to tackle in 2022, and I have an expert guest baker lined up to help us master this challenging loaf.)
RIP, Betty White.
See you all next week, I hope you have a peaceful & bread-filled weekend.