52 Loaves vs. Bittman: A Baguette Search

Friday evening we had an indoor picnic dinner and a baguette tasting.

Sometimes my bread baking feels too random.  I bake with one method for a while and growing bored, switch to another.  I keep track of my preferred recipes, but I have never compared them side by side.  

This tasting (Round One) was a contest between 52 Loaves, Baguettue a l'Ancienne, a sourdough baguette, and Mark Bittman's, Easiest and Best French Bread, which uses a food processor method. (I wrote about making my levain from 52 Loaves last summer).

Other than their shape, these two loaves have little in common and have no business being compared with each other.  But what I wanted was a scenario of going into your favorite bakery that sold both these breads and needing to choose one to serve with your dinner.

I asked Olivia and Mr. Savory, overall, which one do you like best?  Mr. Savory said the test was oversimplified and he couldn't choose.  He's right, but I insisted he choose anyway.  First he said he liked the chewy texture and crust of 52 Loaves, but the taste of the Bittman baguette.  Pressed, he ultimately chose 52 Loaves.

Olivia and I chose far more quickly in favor of the sourdough.  It has a more complex flavor, and I, too, liked the chewy texture. 

Interestingly, as toast with butter the next morning, the sourdough had little flavor and "Bittman's baguette" was really tasty.  However, most people don't make baguettes for the toast...

The Baguette a l'Ancienne will return for Round Two.