The Staff of Life

Varied Delights, Texas French Bread and Whole Foods

Texas French Bread baker Ben Wilcott's passion for baking reveals itself with every "I'm really excited about," and then he's off describing a loaf or a recipe. Not surprisingly, Wilcott plans on having several bread offerings at his holiday meals. "We'll have rustic rolls, small individual versions of our ciabatta [85 cents each, $5 for a dozen]. And mini whole-wheat rolls [50 cents each]. And emmies. They're soft, silver-dollar rolls [50 cents]." But he's not done yet. He plans on doing something with sourdough for the appetizer course. "Oh! And pecan raisin rolls, too [85 cents, $8.95 for a dozen]!" They're a holiday offering that works well with many of the traditional offerings of the holidays such as turkey and sweet potatoes. It's a busy time at TFB, with seasonal tea breads, tarts, and desserts being cranked out. Ordering in advance is recommended.

The same advice applies to Allen Sanden who works at Whole Foods, where loaves of the seasonal Harvest Cranberry Bread ($3.99) are being pulled from the oven. It sounds like a tea bread, but the loaf is an elongated hearth bread, yeasty and crusty. "It's great for pairing with wine and cheese," Sanden observes, so it can start off the meal. In addition to cranberries, the bread is studded with apricots and walnuts – sounds like it could make a tasty stuffing. And it's an ideal bookend for leftover sandwiches, unless you go for the scrumptious and singular Seeduction Loaf ($3.99). The bread is loaded with a multitude of seeds and has a slightly sweet taste and a toothsome texture that toasts up beautifully. Your turkey sandwich will rise above the mundane with this bread. – B.C.

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