What's black and gold and bread all over? Breadbar's seasonal Black and Gold bread, available now through December.
While we'll admit to being partial to the squid ink that gives the classic pain de mie its shocking ebony color, we're equally won over by the loaf's glistening metallic crown, made from pressing gossamer sheets of 23 carat edible gold leaf into the cooled bread. The effect is elegant, with a bit of 80s splatter paint.
Inspiration for the bread came in 2007 during the first incarnation of LudoBites at Breadbar. Chef Ludo Lefebvre wanted a pitch-black base for his now famous foie gras croque monsieur. "The idea was to have a black bread, a very dark bread," recalls Breadbar's owner and founder, Ali Chalabi. "We tried several, we only like to use natural colorants, and then we came up with squid ink. It has very little taste but good color."
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The gold leaf was a later addition, contributing a decorative effect for the holidays. "It's like confetti," says Breadbar's head baker, Juan Alvarado, who adds that it takes about 200 grams of squid ink to give four to five kilos of bread its raven hue.
While that dash of squid ink has a major impact on the loaf's appearance, its gustatory effects are more subtle -- there is a hint of fishiness in the bread's aroma, but it's only with toasting that any tang of mollusky bite emerges -- making the bread the perfect platform for your holiday party canape platter. We paired it recently with Roquefort and tomatoes to sublime effect. It would also make a killer grilled cheese or savory French toast.
The Black and Gold Bread is available for $9 a loaf at both the West Third and Century City locations of Breadbar, but it sells out each year, so Chalabi suggests calling ahead for multiple orders. "In the ongoing recession, it's our way of contributing to the good feeling of our customers," he says. "It gives a little bit of glamor to the bread."