Friday Bread Basket 6/9/23
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain. Today’s collection of links leans heavily on the decadent side of things. Aside from the 50% rye-whey bread pictured above, which is a recipe that will accompany my interview with Homa Dashtaki (which I had to move to next week, for reasons).
Artichoky parm parm
I loved this Bon App story from Katie Honan about a mysterious sandwich singleton, the artichoke parm from Mama Louisa’s Hero Shoppe, in Brooklyn. In wanting to learn more about this unique iteration of the parm sub, Honan does a deep dive into the history of the dish:
The history of parmigiana—also colloquially called parmesan or parm—platters and heroes across the United States dates back to the Italian diaspora around the turn of the 20th century, centered in the Northeast, according to scholars and historians.
It doesn’t have anything to do with the cheese it shares a name with, which originates in the Parma region of Italy. And like a lot of food dishes, its true origin has been debated.
La Cucina Italiana found the first historical mention of a parmigiana dish in a cookbook from the 1700s—it used zucchini, though these days eggplant is far more popular. Some trace the eggplant parmigiana to Sicily, ascribing its name to various forms of other Sicilian words, like “parmiciana,” a word for wooden shutters or roof slats. Another food historian said it’s a version of the word “damigiana,” the wicker sleeve used to shield a bottle of wine or a dish of cooked eggplant and cheese.
Gonna make an artichoke parm here soon, it sounds so good (it even has some scrambled egg in it?).
Lee Tran Lam recently wrote about the potato and sea salt croissants from Home Croissanterie in Sydney, Australia, for the Sydney Morning Herald, and I wanted you all to know about them too:
Every time I go to Home Croissanterie, I look for the potato and sea salt croissants. I’ve been obsessed with them since 2021, when this bakery only existed in Instagram form and owner Ben Lai took orders online.
Although his pastry counter was composed of pixels back then, his doorstep deliveries revealed the full-volume flavour and three-dimensional glory of his creations. The roast potato strips swirled through his buttery, salt-flaked pastries were a joy to crunch through – like eating crispy chips in croissant form.
It’s an experience worth repeating and makes you grateful that Home Croissanterie is now a physical cafe where you can spontaneously load up on baked treats, instead of pre-ordering them. Timing is key, however; one Sunday, I got there after 11am, and the counter was almost empty. Another time, I got the very last potato and sea salt croissant – to the understandable fury of the person behind me.
I have a bunch of dough left from my Lune workshop in the freezer, and now I know what I’m going to do with it…
Thank you for your service
At The Curiosity Cabinet, Jeffrey Rubel wrote about National Donut Day, which, unlike most other food “holidays,” has a real history behind it:
Now, you might be tempted to dismiss National Donut Day as a corporate ploy to get you to loosen your belt and open your wallet. But it’s not.
In 1917, right after the United States entered World War I, the Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France to determine how best to support the soldiers. The Salvation Army realized their normal activities — e.g., leading religious services, playing music, etc. — weren’t much help. So, they set up “huts” near army training centers that served baked goods, provided writing supplies, and helped mend clothing.
However, it was hard to get fresh baked goods to huts on the front lines, so Salvation Army volunteers Margaret Sheldon and Helen Purviance came up with an idea: Make donuts. They collected excess rations for dough, used shell casings and wine bottles as makeshift rolling pins, and filled soldier’s helmets with lard to act as fryers. Soldiers loved the donuts, and the idea spread to the Salvation Army huts all across Europe. In each hut, the volunteers — all women — would make around 2,500 donuts a day. These volunteers became known as “Donut Lassies.”
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. I hope you all have a peaceful weekend, see you all on Monday.