Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

The Mouthful: The Grateful Bread

    Bread. It’s the staff of life. To build community, we break bread with one another. When something is essential, it’s our bread and butter, and when it’s phemonenal, it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

    Bread is important, people. Accordingly, I’m entirely convinced that one’s cooking can be improved at least one million percent just by buying the right bread.

    Bread can be the foundation for just about anything. Throw any scraps or leftovers you have on thick, crusty toast and they instantly turn into a meal. Serve a slice with soup and you won’t find yourself hungry an hour later. Heck, bread can make a salad or even a soup (panzanella and pappa al pomodoro, respectively. Try both, they’re great). Choosing the right bread for what you’re making is an easy way to take it from mundane to mouthwatering.

    Best sandwich bread: Good Seed, Dave’s Killer Bread

    Okay, so the heartwarming felon-turned-foodie story behind Dave’s Killer Bread is more than a little tainted by co-founder Dave Dahl’s recent arrest for allegedly injuring three deputies in a violent altercation. But the company, which provides opportunities for otherwise unemployable ex-cons, is still a good one to support. It helps that their Good Seed bread is downright incredible. A toothsome texture and malty, mildly sweet taste help to elevate this bread far above its spongy peers. It’s a great breakfast bread – use it for a perfect egg in a basket.

    By the way, sandwich bread should be stored in the original plastic bag at room temperature in a dry place, not in the refrigerator, which makes it go stale faster.

    Best crusty bread: Como, Grand Central Baking Company

    Grand Central has a sizable lineup of amazing offerings, but the Como is a particular highlight–which is probably why Saveur named it one of the country’s 20 best breads. It’s a very classic artisan-style bread, with a hearty crust and flawlessly chewy texture. Every time I buy this bread I can’t help sticking my nose in the bag for that lingering yeasty scent. Como comes in two sizes: a standard loaf and the slightly smaller Piccolo Como, great for people who live alone. Como is incredibly versatile and great for just about anything, but I particularly love it with soups and pastas.

    Artisan bread should be stored in the original paper bag or left out on the counter with the cut side face down. It also tends to freeze well, but be sure to slice it first.

    Best whole wheat: Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane, Trader Joe’s

    Trader Joe’s breads are rarely great, but the whole wheat Tuscan pane is a glowing exception. It’s like a cross between a crusty artisan bread and a softer sliced bread, and the combination makes it incredibly versatile. It tends to be my go-to when I’m only buying one loaf of bread, and want one that will be relatively healthy and good for anything I may make. I especially like this bread as toast–it’s great with a bit of butter and orange marmalade or topped with whatever leftovers you might have around. For a light weeknight meal, toast a slice or two, then top with cilantro-jalapeno hummus (also available at TJ’s) and some garlic roasted broccoli (for my recipe, check out last week’s column). Spicy, veggie-forward perfection.

    Best rolls: Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, King’s Hawaiian

    It broke my heart when I learned that Hawaiian bread is actually produced in California. Even though the brand sits on a throne of lies, I have to recommend their sweet rolls. Hawaiian bread is the Platonic ideal of white bread: subtly sweet, a little bit squishy (but in a good way), with a buttery-soft bottom and perfectly rounded top. These rolls should be kept as unadulterated as possible, topped only with a smear of softened butter and maybe a light drizzle of honey. I would recommend options to pair them with, but I always devour them before they have the chance to make it to the dinner table, so I wouldn’t know.

    Best dessert bread: Bainbridge Island Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Franz Bakery

    Okay, I might be slightly biased, seeing as my beloved hometown lends its name to this bread. But even if I didn’t have island loyalty clouding my vision, this would still be the best cinnamon swirl bread around. Replete with streusel topping and decadent ribbons of cinnamon sugar throughout, this bread rivals anything you’d get straight from a bakery. Obviously, this bread would be a fitting base for cinnamon toast, but it’s even better used in a sweet and salty grilled cheese with the sharpest white cheddar you can find.

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