Bread 101: American vs. Artisan Breads

Mainstreet Bakery explains Artisan Breads.

If there was an equivalent of a Sommelier in the Bakery industry, Tony Sisinni would undoubtedly earn the title. He knows more about the complexities and nuisances of bread varieties, loaf shapes and baking techniques than most people know exist. Below are some insights from Tony on the basics of bread and baking.

Artisan vs. American Breads

Bread is a staple of many cuisines, but that doesn’t mean its simple. You’ll hear people refer to “Artisan Breads” when talking about the loaves with European-sounding names. Ciabatta. Focaccia. Baguette. Is that the designation? Not quite. While it is true most of these breads are of European origin, the term “Artisan” really refers more to the time the bread is allowed to rise, the formation of the loaf, and the baking process.

Artisan breads are allowed to rise for a much longer time than other breads, meaning more time for the yeast to ferment. A bread’s flavor is actually a function of this fermentation process; flavor is produced from the gas released during fermentation. The longer the time the bread rises, the more the yeast ferments, and the more flavor that is released into the dough.

There are also hallmark differences in loaf formation and baking process in Artisan breads. Loaves are often, although not always, hand shaped and hearth-baked on a baking stone. Vienna loaves are actually baked in steam rather than hot air, which gives the crust of that variety a thinner, more delicate quality.

Lastly Artisan breads are made in smaller batches, allowing the process to be more of a “craft” than an exercise in mass-production.

…And one Coconut Cake

“Two dozen Asiago Batards, fourteen packages of White Ciabatta Hoagie rolls, ten 9″ Herb Focaccia rounds, twelve Rosemary Onion boules, ten packages of 8″ Demi Baguettes and one Coconut Cake,” I hear the the order being recalled back to the customer.

I have to smile. The customer on the other end of the phone is updating their bi-weekly order. This particular customer, a small local family-owned Italian restaurant in the metro, does fair volume for their size and location. But the reason this particular order makes me happy is not because they are calling to increase their order.

It’s because they added the Coconut Cake.

While the Coconut Cake is part of our standard Cakes & Dessert line, there’s absolutely nothing standard about this cake. It took years to perfect and after many trials, tests, tweaks and tastings, the current recipe is the best version to date.

What makes the cake so special? We could tell you, but we’d rather show you.

Order our famous Coconut Cake on your next order and see for yourself. We’re pretty confident “one Coconut Cake” could become part of your standard order as well.