With the arrival of cold weather, some kind of primal switch in our brain clicks on, and we find our noses hungering for the smell of wood smoke and roasting meat. This segues naturally to our largest harvest feast, Thanksgiving, and its groaning board of rich, meaty, fire-cooked foods. In order to celebrate the season, SCRATCHbread, one of the city's most creative bakeries, has concocted a Mesquite Pork Sourdough with Maple loaf ($6.50) that captures its essence in bread form.
Unlike many city bakeries, the SCRATCH team lacks room and cutting-edge baking equipment; they cook their amazing loaves in a pizza oven. But they've managed to make a virtue out of their kitchen's limitations. They created this loaf—called the Pork Sour for short—by adding maple syrup and cane sugar to their sourdough starter to jump-start fermentation. They mix in some chunks of thick-cut smoky bacon, mesquite powder for added smoke flavor, and some bacon fat for good luck. After a little more fermentation, it gets popped in the pizza oven.
What comes out is a big, slightly oval boule with a few chunks of bacon popping through the slightly oily crust. Inside, the crumb is medium dense, with a hint of bacon flavor, a few chewy pork bits for texture, and a pronounced but not overpowering smoky aroma. It's great for breakfast with eggs or spread with cream cheese and quince jam. And if you're serious about your Thanksgiving feast, this is clearly the greatest stuffing bread ever invented. It's only available on Monday afternoons after 3 p.m., so make your plans now.
About the author: Andrew Coe is the only reporter covering the city's bread beat.