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SCChris 07-12-2012 08:18 AM

The Best bread in So. Cal?
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I haven't tasted experienced, bread like this since last year in France. In my brief conversation with the counter staff, sourdough levain is used exclusively.

By chance I had found myself downtown and needing lunch so I searched out a restaurant that I wanted to try for a while, “Church and State Bistro” on Industrial St, Los Angeles. I immediately saw the baguettes, how could I miss them. Although pretty bread is not common, I see it often enough to not get overly excited when I do. When I tore opened the slices provided put the bread at my nose and smelled, I knew that I was in for an extraordinary treat and the taste wasn’t a letdown. I was told by the wait staff that the bakery was close by. I finished a wonderful Prix Fixe lunch with an extraordinary Creme Brulee, and set out to find the bakery two or three blocks away.

Because I arrived, at the bakery, about 12:30, most of more exotic breads had been sold so I had to settle for 2 baguettes and a country loaf. The baguettes were passed on to French and Irish expats and we had the country loaf with garden tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, fresh poached eggs, and strawberries.

Although I was too late to buy them, I saw some day old multi grain loaves, they wouldn't part with, and 2 Poilane style Miches.. Next time for sure..

Bread Lounge
700 S. Santa Fe Ave. Los Angeles, CA

Church and State Bistro,
1850 Industrial St, Los Angeles, CA •
213 405-1434


texassourdough 07-13-2012 06:15 AM

Re: The Best bread in So. Cal?
Hi Chris!

Thanks for the write up. I am accumulating bakeries recommended by people I trust. The bread looks good. Just to make sure I have it right, the Church and State Bistro is the restaurant and the Bread Lounge is the bakery. Right?

SCChris 07-13-2012 07:05 AM

Re: The Best bread in So. Cal?
I'm going back on Thursday morning to pickup a few different loaves, I want to get a fuller view of what they do, and I will update all on what I find. Jay, I also want to say your latest blog on dough development was again thought provoking and helpful. I picked up a Hawo mill on Ebay and expect to start with the limited 5% addition of wheat and other fresh ground flours to my breads over the next few weeks to see where it takes the flavor profiles.


texassourdough 07-13-2012 12:28 PM

Re: The Best bread in So. Cal?
The Hawo mill is seriously cool! Look forward to a report on it. I don't know anyone who has one, but it looks AWESOME! You will be amazed what 5% of fresh ground flour will do for your bread. It is subtle for it is all aromatic is noticeable...and IMO wonderful!

My goal with the blog is to nudge people to think/try different approaches and recognize some of the nuances that are hard to ferret out. I was really puzzled by no-knead for a long time. Simply could not make it make sense but once I realized how much more fragile it was than a properly developed dough it made a lot of sense and helped me understand a lot more about what goes on in dough.

BTW, Reinhart has stated that fresh ground flour does not make good bread in a window from roughly 12 hours after milling until it is oxidized - about three weeks. My research indicates the front end "window for baking doesn't exist. Fresh flour simply doesn't make gluten properly. So keep the fresh stuff low. I have probably gone to 15% at times, maybe even 20. It was my perception at the time that the higher levels led to denser crumb and the wheatiness/grassyness went from subtle to significant. My technique is better now and I might be able to get better loaves at the higher % but...I don't know! I haven't tried.

Hang in there!

SCChris 07-13-2012 03:01 PM

Re: The Best bread in So. Cal?
I picked up on the notion that after 12 or so hours then the fresh ground flour would degrade the gluten development and planed on grinding what I needed, as needed, and keeping the % down. Thanks for the heads up and your take on fresh milled. I picked up in one of my recent reads that freshly milled flour speeds the rise times, hmmm? We'll see.. I had seen the Hawo on craigslist first but was still researching and wondering, how much benifit could I see? I want to try a large Miche, Poilane style, but it's going to be tricky with any substancial fresh ground flour. Oh, and so much for bread baking being cheap..



Dino_Pizza 07-13-2012 07:18 PM

Re: The Best bread in So. Cal?
Chris, I went to Church & State for the 1st time last month for dinner (after a wine event at the old St. Vibiannas) and found myself slowly smelling each piece of bread I would rip off. (I'm a big bread "sniffer" :o) Very complex and great texture on the crust. I couldn't even get myself to put butter on it, it was so wonderful. Interesting neighborhood, to say the least.

Thanks for the bread research, I'll make an early morning bread trip to Bread Lounge too some weekend.

You may have posted this before: where do you get your whole grain to grind?

texassourdough 07-14-2012 06:59 AM

Re: The Best bread in So. Cal?
Couple of thoughts Chris! The Hawo mill is supposedly a real workhorse that can do a lot of flour (takes a while but...). My mill is rather slow and really noisy so I haven't tried making enough flour to do whole batches. As a result I haven't seen the effects you refer to. I too have read of the effects of really fresh flour but...I simply can't provide a knowledgeable comment.

I think it would be really interesting to do a miche with home ground flour - probably 70-80% aged (oxidized/3 weeks old) and 10% fresh. One of the things I like about my mill is being able to make different sizes (though the size range is not as large as I would like - I would like a coarser mill).

The one issue that has troubled me about milling large amounts of flour has been the issue of wheat consistency. I have to suspect you are going to encounter quite a bit of variation if you buy small batches. OTOH, small batches are ridiculously expensive (like 2-3 X the price of flour!) and big sacks are pretty cheap by comparison.

WRT cost, by the time you have a WFO, a spiral mixer, and a Hawo the pizza and bread is cheap (as long as you ignore the fixed investment!)

Hang in there! :o)

SCChris 07-14-2012 07:30 AM

Re: The Best bread in So. Cal?

Originally Posted by Dino_Pizza (Post 134922)
where do you get your whole grain to grind?

Dino, I haven't decided what I'm going to do in this regard. I know that I can find some at Whole Foods and some at local health food stores. My bet is that in the end I'll get the bulk on line.. I don't expect that in the begining that I'm going to try to replace all of my flours, after all King Arthur AP is a nice consistent product. What I think I'm going to be doing is to grind the Rye, Spelt and other high price grains as well as WW. Hey I'm winging it..

I'm baking 2 times a week and I really want to persue the more obscure grains, not immediately as the primary component but to get an idea what they are and how to use them.

Jay, the mill arrived and it weighs a ton. It's built like a brick out house.. I haven't had a chance to try it yet but as soon as I can I'll report. I have a 5# bag of organic spelt that I'll be working on and hope to find some spelt grain to do a direct compairison.


PS My vision is to find a control bread that I bake at the same time as the test and then compare as apples to apples, as best as I can.

texassourdough 07-14-2012 09:02 AM

Re: The Best bread in So. Cal?
Hi Chris! You are definitely right about other grains. I even mill my own rice to make rice flour for mixing with flour to dust my linen! Spelt, rye, oats, etc are all good candidates - especially as blending flours IMO. Like wheat you should get better aromatics from the fresh grind.

I will bet you can find a pretty good source of grain locally if you poke around enough! My smaller health food store sells 25 and 50 pound bags of the stuff they sell in bulk at pretty good prices.

Be well!

SCChris 07-23-2012 09:13 AM

Re: The Best bread in So. Cal?
Bread Lounge Update..

Other than baguettes and country loaves, they don’t have a set menu of breads that I could find, so I wonder if they add in and remove breads when needed and they are still finding out what will sell and what won't. It may also be because the bakery is only a couple of months old a printed, take away, menu hasn’t been a priority.

Last week I dropped by and picked up a variety of things. Croissants, Pain au Chocolat, a interesting chocolate roll thing, think of a cinnamon roll only with chocolate cheesecake replacing the cinnamon sugar mixture. I also picked up baguettes, a mixed grain loaf and a fig and walnut loaf. The whole wheat fig and walnut loaf was not overly dense and not overly full of figs and nuts, balanced. It paired nicely with a goat cheese green salad and Manchego and wine. This is a very nice loaf. The multi grain loaf was full of cracked grains and was rolled in flax and sesame and has big flavor. I haven’t made Jay’s version of Eric Kaiser’s pain aux cereales but this is the direction that my mind is going with respect to the flavor. This is again a very nice flavorful loaf and again a great foundation for a robustly flavored salad, I paired it with roasted beets and goat cheese and a glass of wine and called it dinner.

This is with out a doubt my favorite bakery in Southern California to date. Everything was baked spot on, the chocolate and butter used in the breakfast breads is top quality, no skimping here.

I wonder if he could be persuaded to teach a multi day class.. Hummm?


PS I promise I'll bring a real, not my cell phone, camera and get some quality shots of the breads and then post..

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