I have a huge weakness for bread. I would choose a freshly baked, warm, crusty slice of ciabatta or baguette with lashings salted butter over most other foods out there. Over the years I’ve tried countless diets where I’ve attempted cutting down on carbs, most recently LCHF (Tim Noakes’ diet), but recently I’ve come to accept my addiction and limit my carb intake to only really good bread.
It goes without saying that I was more than a little thrilled to discover Babette’s bread- artisan bread made by a young lady who graduated from Wits with an BA LLB just last year, but subsequently decided to ditch law for loaves. Babette had been baking as much as studying during her degree, so decided to go to Vermont in the USA after graduation, where she apprenticed under a French master baker and learned to bake artisan bread in the traditional French style.
The difference between artisan bread and a normal loaf that you’d get from a supermarket, is that artisan bread is handmade by a skilled craftsman who is trained in the methods and techniques of bread making. The baker carefully selects and mixes simple, good quality ingredients and will then monitor the development and progress of the dough. A number of different elements like hydration, fermentation and humidity all need to be considered.
Upon returning to SA, Babette began selling her bread, made from only the finest ingredients, to friends, and soon the word started to spread. She now takes orders via email from the public and bakes twice a week from an outbuilding at her home in Parktown West which has been converted to a bakery.
I sampled the baguette and the sourdough- and was in heaven. I literally ate plain bread and butter for lunch, dinner and breakfast the next day. The baguette, which sells for R20, in particular was spectacular- it is made from unbleached stoneground flour so is easier to digest and less airy than the supermarket “French loaf” I was accustomed to. I found the sourdough really good but not as amazing as the baguette- it is probably good for toast or sandwiches, while the baguette is really good eaten on its own.
PS: My friend Crystal from Joburg’s Darling also did a review on Babette recently, so if you don’t believe me, check out her review here.