The Austin Chronicle

The Staff of Life

Breads for the holidays

November 23, 2007, Food

The centerpiece of a holiday table is typically something visually impressive, like a golden-brown turkey spilling stuffing from its cavity or crown roast of pork sporting frilly paper panties on its rib bones. And sides usually consist of a combination of family favorites and one or two adventurous debuts. Beef or bird, green-bean casserole or brussels-sprouts chiffonade, the holiday meal is anchored by bread. Well, almost all meals are anchored by bread, aren't they? It ain't called a staple for nothing. The sideboard can be groaning under bowls of potatoes, platters of vegetables, and plates of dessert, but despite the bounty, diners will always inquire, "Where's the bread?"

Even if one's typical dinner bread comes out of a plastic bag and is blinding white, at the holidays we like to up the game a bit. And no one likes to up their game at the holidays more than bakers. Anticipating the approaching holidays, the Food staff checked with local bakers to find out what form of the staff of life will take on their tables. Some have even opened up their recipe books and shared the secrets of their favorite breads. It's enough to make you want to skip the spuds to add an extra bread to your meal. – Barbara Chisholm

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