Mario Sandoval with the bread of Coque (Madrid).

More and more shops and workers are betting on quality breads, but their shortage has led chefs like Mario Sandoval or Ramón Freixa to make their own pieces

Flour, water and salt. It doesn't take much more to make good bread. However, infamous breads are still found in outlets and restaurants . Small dry, tasteless pieces, which break up when splitting or, on the contrary, taffy and leathery ; faded bagels with the mottled back of black pints from the dirt on the baking sheets, intolerable industrial breads that can ruin the best of meals. But it is no less true that in recent years new shops and workers have been opened where quality bars and loaves are dispatched , elaborations that often move to the edge of fashion, unifying the offer (pieces of crust and crust are carried alveolate with an often excessive level of acidity).

The shortage of bread at the height of the kitchen has led many chefs to put the dough into the dough . Literally. One of its top advocates and organizer of a meeting on bread in the restoration (Artesa, held in 2015 and 2016) is Jesús Monedero, chef and owner of Palio, in Ocaña (Toledo). «It is the only food we eat every day of our life and is in all cultures . I do not understand that it is not given the importance that it has, especially in restaurants that sell quality. You know cheese, wine, but you have no idea of ​​bread, ”he says.

Son and grandson of bakers, since he opened the dining room in 2009, is responsible for doing it in an artisanal way (knead by hand, use the roller, puff pastry) with organic flours selected from native wheat. From their kitchen they leave loaves of buckwheat , oil cocas, enriched breads, even pecorino cheese bagels and grape skins. In any case, of natural fermentations, without added yeasts .

The bread of Ramón Freixa (Madrid).

Castilla is the protagonist in the geography of the bread, also taken to the territory of the culinary. Thus the interesting project of Samuel Moreno in Molino de Alcuneza , a beautiful little hotel with restaurant with the Relais & Châteaux label, located in Sigüenza (Guadalajara). Formed with prestigious French and Spanish bakers, he considers that he has almost a duty to the cereal culture of his area, so he has delved into the matter to elaborate «a product different from the rest, based on the use of grain milled to the stone [of greater purity] and natural yeasts from 15-year-old sourdough, slow breads difficult to work ». Hence its pieces of organic monovarietal flours, such as heart wheat bread, black, rye or whole grain spelled with beer bagasse, among others. The whole process - manual, artisan and patient - can be known firsthand thanks to the experience that has been implemented in the hotel and that allows you to attend a bread workshop, prepare it and try it later at dinner at the Molino de Alcuneza restaurant , located in what was an old mill 500 years old and still preserved.

Other Manchego chefs follow the Panarra path. Like José Antonio Medina, from El Coto de Quevedo , rural hotel-restaurant in Torre de Juan Abad (Ciudad Real). Student of Monedero (who has trained other fellow countrymen), bet on loaves of white bread and peas with flour from Campo de Montiel, which mixes with raisins or pipes to add nuances to the hunting cuisine , protagonist of its menu. Or Teresa Gutiérrez, who does the same in Saffron (Villarrobledo, Albacete), serving it daily in three varieties that accompany the tasting menu. One of them , similar to an Italian focaccia (with olive oil, soft and without crust) prepared with beer instead of water, bakes it the night before, “since it is much better,” he clarifies . The other varieties change according to the recipes, because the muffin depends on the dish ». Hence one of carob beans - "sour and sweet at the same time", he points out - with some artichokes; another pregnant with sobrasada with torrezno ... Although its panario recipe book is long: of must with quince, of Manchego cheese, of smoked spelled, oil cakes, unleavened bread ...

With own bakery

The breads that Teresa Gutiérrez makes in her dining room Saffron (Villarrobledo, Albacete).

The cook-baker binomial is given stricto sensu in Jesús Sánchez, from Cenador de Amós (Villaverde de Pontones, Santander), who in 2017 set up a workshop with professional machinery inside the dining room facilities. With the variety that it produces, it supplies the restaurant, the coffee shop at the Muelle del Centro Botín - which runs it - and even sells it at El Corte Inglés in Santander. «We have a lot of breads that we make with sourdough and organic wheat flour from Castilla. In the gazebo we seek to be the thread of food . We start with a very thin and crunchy ciabatta that we serve with the anchovy. After that, the white, the rustic, the seeds ... and we promptly elaborate other specialties ». Among them, cornbread, nuts and cranberries, pasiego or focaccia. In any case, a return to the origins of craft processes .

Seasonal breads

Jesús Sánchez is not the only two Michelin stars that does. Mario Sandoval (Coque, Madrid) has a canonical oven of two meters with refractory floor where he cooks his pieces, whose elaboration changes according to the time of the year. «In winter we make bread with more crust, in spring one lighter. They are seasonal, we change the formula, but they all have crumbs, because I like bread with a heart » . Mother dough and long fermentations are the basis of her crunchy pieces, which she gives to many clients, because «for us it is a compliment to be asked for».

The same red stars and the same passion for this product share Ramón Freixa (from the homonymous restaurant in Madrid). It comes from baking tradition. His father did it in the disappeared El Racó d'en Freixa (Barcelona) and, from there, sent him to Madrid . With spelled flour, butter and thyme, puff pastry, brioche curry, cane nuts and olives, dates ..., they are still baked daily in the restaurant, although now, now the father is withdrawn, they are baked in a external workshop following the family formula with 75-year-old mother dough, that of Ramón's baker grandfather .

Two Season Breads (Valencia).

Javier Aranda (Gaytán and La Cabra , both in Madrid) has been developing breads for six years that he tries to harmonize with his dishes. White, rye, oil cake, brioche ... «The idea is to complement our kitchen. It is an added value to which we attach great importance. I don't like flavored breads, I prefer to focus on the flours or starches that we add [rice, carrot waters], playing with acidity ».

Begoña Freire (Étimo , Madrid) has had its own mother dough for five years, with which she prepares village, rye bread, wheat loaf with beer, bread ... up to seven varieties. With training in bakery, use only organic stone-milled flour from different cereals , and believes that the technique «can be complicated initially for a cook although, once you understand the procedure, it is simple. It's about adapting bread to your kitchen, and not vice versa, ”he says.

With personal touch

The Italian revelation of the season, Gianni Pinto , is behind Noi's stove, opened three months ago in Madrid, where he also makes his own bread. He thinks this is the cover letter, "because it is the first thing the customer eats . We have tried different varieties, sfilatino [the typical bar], of butter ... But we realized the luxury of having Spanish EVOO, and we made a bread that I call focaccina , bun type, with two-year-old mother dough and oil , which we bake daily ». In addition, it elaborates the traditional focaccias a la genovese and fried pizzetas, always with its personal touch.

Together with the gastronomic, profitability is another aspect to contemplate. " Making good bread is cheaper than buying it, because if it has quality it will always be expensive, " says Erlantz Gorostiza, chef of MB, El Txoco and Melvin at the Abama hotel (Tenerife), who also makes it clear that "of course, it is an added value for which you only need time ». He studied bakery and pastry, and under his guidelines 23 varieties (white, crispy, focaccias, mold, puff pastry, gluten-free) are prepared in the kitchen , for which he has a specific baker, machinery and oven, although, in his opinion, "with four basic rules you can achieve a decent bread" .

Buffet of loaves of Cenador de Amós (Villaverde de Pontones, Cantabria).

By resources Alberto Alonso and Mar Soler, chefs of Dos Estaciones (Valencia), are on the other side of the scale. There are only three in the kitchen, but they make bread, only one type, with wheat flour, country and rye to the stone, "a good, rich loaf - Alonso points out - that serves as a wild card for the whole meal . "

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