Tag: Bread

Picture Perfect Bread

Picture Perfect Bread

(Above: Head baker and manager Ben Tock of Bricco Panetteria in Boston’s North End. )

I wrote a story for the Boston Globe about a North End bakery that specializes in old world Italian bread.

I thought a Globe photographer was scheduled to take photos at the same time I was at the bakery. When he didn’t show up, I took back-up photos.

Later, I found out he came and took the photos at another time. Those photos were used to accompany the article. I hate to waste anything, so I’m sharing some of the photos I took here. Surprisingly the one taken by the Globe and used with the article is nearly identical to one of the photos I took (above).

Old World Italian Breads Are Baked in an Alley in the North End

By Mark Micheli
Boston Globe Correspondent

The ingredients (as noted in the sign) are what sets this bread apart from others made in the U.S.
The ingredients (as noted in the sign) are what sets this bread apart from others made in the U.S. (Photo by Mark Micheli)

From the moment you turn off busy Hanover Street in the North End and into the alley, you know you’re in for a treat. A sign reading “Fresh Artisan Breads ” hangs on an old fire escape. Open the glass door at the end of the lane and the heady smell of fermenting yeast and flour rises up the stairs. Who knew a trip to a bakery could end up being a five-minute escape to Europe?

Restaurateur and North End resident Frank DePasquale opened Bricco Panetteria about a year ago to supply handmade Italian and French breads to his eateries. The tiny bakery is located in an alley behind Bricco. “I really didn’t think people were going to find it,” says DePas-quale, owner of Trattoria Il Panino, Mare Oyster Bar, Umbria Prime, Bricco Ristorante & Enoteca, and the new Quattro Ristorante-Grill-Pizzeria. “It’s almost like the traditions in Italy or France, where you go down an alley and find a little hidden secret.”

People are finding it. Once inside, you head down a flight of stairs and see one or two bakers working in a small white-tiled room. They’re rolling dough, pulling bread from the ovens, or stacking loaves on a large rack. Head baker and manager Ben Tock, 23, is making 1,300 loaves “on a good day,” he says. The Johnson and Wales grad worked at Au Soleil, the catering arm of L’Espalier and Sel de la Terre.

All of the breads are made by hand, following old world practices and recipes developed by Tock.
All of the breads are made by hand, following old world practices and recipes developed by Tock. (Photo by Mark Micheli)

Breads include ciabatta, a French sourdough miche, which is a puffy round, a baguette stuffed with Parmigiano and prosciutto, and the best-selling olive baguette. All have a crisp crust with a little char and lots of holes in the crumb, like you’d find in an Old World bakery. That was what DePasquale had in mind: to bring back the bread he enjoys on frequent trips to Italy.

“It’s very different,” says Michele Topor, who runs Boston Food Tours and has lived in the North End for more than 40 years. “The bread stores we’ve had are great, but they’re more Italian-American. This is more authentic, very flavorful, more airy and chewy.”“We use unbleached, unbromated flour, which is hard to come by,” Tock says. The baker also uses some white, silky 00 Italian flour. “We don’t use any additives or preservatives. And there’s no added sugar.”

Tock explains that breads are made with preferments, using a piece of dough that has fermented for 12 to 18 hours before mixing it with more flour, water, and salt to make a final dough. Because of this, all the breads take between 18 to 36 hours to make. “This fermentation allows for more development of flavor,” he says. “It allows us to get the nice texture, the crumb.”

Getting to this point took time. Before the store opened, Tock worked on the recipes to get them just right. Some of the breads took only a week or two, but others, like the French sourdough miche, took two months to perfect.

“The processes are old methods, but the way I do it down there is my way.”

Bricco Panetteria 241 Hanover St. (rear), North End, Boston. 617-248-9859,www.bricco.com.

Cheesy Khachapuri From ‘The World’

Cheesy Khachapuri From ‘The World’

(Above: Khachapuri is easy to make but takes time as the dough has to rise twice.)

One of the best ways to understand a people and their culture is through food, and the people at “The World” (a radio program produced by the BBC, PRI, and WGBH) understand that.

On their website I stumbled upon this recipe for a sweet bread stuffed with cheese. It was on the “Geo Quiz” page and it asked readers to guess the country on the Black Sea where khachapuri comes from.

Give up? It’s Georgia and it’s so popular there the government wants to trademark the recipe. After making it, I understand why. Its golden brown, sweet flaky crust, stuffed with a savory blend of hot cheese melts in your mouth. Served with salad or soup, it’s a very filling meal.

“The World” gave links to two recipes, one from MasterCook on the RecipeSource website and the other from Gourmet Magazine. Now usually I’d follow the Gourmet Magazine recipe as I’m a big fan of that now defunct publication, but I liked the sound of the MasterCook recipe better.

The dough fills a springform pan nicely.
The dough fills a springform pan nicely.

The traditional recipe calls for a cheese called sulguni but it’s either too difficult or impossible to get in this part of the world, so both recipes suggest alternatives. The goal is to try and get a stringy cheese that is flavorful and a bit salty. The MasterCook recipe suggests using a combination of Muenster, Jarlsberg, and White Cheddar. The Gourmet Magazine recipe suggests using a combination of Mozzarella and Havarti.

I decided to use all five cheeses and it was a hit at the RootsLiving table tonight.

Since the recipe I used called for 24 ounces of cheese, I used about 5 oz. of each cheese.

I might do some more experimenting with stuffings for this dough. It was great to work with. It rolled out easily, was very soft, but not delicate.

The flavor of the dough is sweet and might lend itself to an appetizer or after-dinner delicacy.

The RootsLiving kitchen could be busy for awhile with this one. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Here’s the recipe I followed (don’t be afraid to experiment with your own blend of cheeses):


Khachapuri (Cheese Bread)

April 27, 2010
: 6-8 as a meal
: Medium


  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup room-temp milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 5 ounces of muenster cheese
  • 5 ounces of Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese
  • 5 ounces of white cheddar cheese
  • 5 ounces of mozzarella cheese
  • 5 ounces of Havarti cheese
  • 2 eggs (beat slightly)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper
  • Step 1 Dissolve yeast and 1 tsp sugar in 1/4 cup water and let stand 5-10 minutes to proof until foamy.
  • Step 2 Add milk, 2 tbs sugar, butter, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough.
  • Step 3 Place in greased bowl and turn to coat all sides. Cover and let rise until double in bulk.
  • Step 4 Shred cheeses, combine all filling ingredients and refrigerate.
  • Step 5 Grease a 9-inch springform pan very well.
  • Step 6 Punch down dough, shape into a ball, and roll into a 20-inch circle. Ease dough into pan (fold in half to lift and unfold in pan) letting excess hang over the edge.
  • Step 7 Mound cheese filling onto dough in pan and bring dough up over the filling, folding to make 8-12 evenly spaced pleats.
  • Step 8 Twist and pinch ends together to make a rough knob.
  • Step 9 Cover with a buttered 12-inch square of waxed paper and let rise until double in bulk.
  • Step 10 Brush loaf with glaze of 1 egg white + 1 tbs water (or use marg).
  • Step 11 Bake 40-50 min. @ 375 or until deep golden brown.
  • Step 12 Remove bread from pan, place directly on oven rack, and bake for an additional 5 minutes to brown bottom crust.
  • Step 13 Cool on rack for 45 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve with soup or salad for a full meal.