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© Stewart, Tabori & Chang
Photography by Matthew Septimus
Celebrity restaurateurs such as Danny Meyer and Daniel Boulud have tried—without success—to supply their restaurants with the stellar baguettes baked by students at The French Culinary Institute in NYC. According to FCI’s founder, Dorothy Cann Hamilton, Air France pilots on layover have been spotted at the school's restaurant, L'Ecole, trying to stock up on the crunchy baguettes. Evidently, these cult 23-inch batons are a chore to procure.
As an alum of FCI's classic culinary program, I’ve had the pleasure of sampling bread from the baking courses. Then last week, an event previewing FCI’s third book, The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking, included some hands-on experience. We kneaded and shaped buttery brioche, sliced fanciful patterns in stretched fougasse (an olive-studded French bread similar to focaccia) and heard stories of 14-year-old starters—captured wild-yeast spores, which lend the distinct sour taste and aroma to sourdough. Most importantly, the evening ended with advance copies of the only bread-baking cookbook anyone may ever need.
Released by Stewart, Tabori & Chang this week, the comprehensive guide covers the FCI’s intensive 8-week bread-baking course in more than 350 pages. With dozens of recipes—including the famed baguette—the tome will appeal to anyone seeking total immersion in the art of bread baking.