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Bread (and a Cookbook Giveaway)

I grew up in Germany eating good bread. My mother (the American parent) quickly learned my father’s old world tastes and became an expert bread baker. She made a dense, chewy rye bread with cracked coriander in it and one of my fondest childhood memories was eating that bread, sliced thinly, toasted, then cooled and then smeared generously with butter and topped with apricot or raspberry jam. Heaven! And just as good, topped with Gruyère or Swiss Cheese our Gouda, again on lots of butter. My mother also  made yeast rolls and whole wheat sandwich bread and I loved all of it and remember rounding up my friends on weekend mornings in the tiny village we lived in to come have warm bread right out of the oven.

My mother still bakes bread but she lives more than an hour away and now she’s most famous for her biscuits, but that’s another blog post. And now I live two blocks from Grand Central Bakery which is quite fortuitous since my first job out of college was at Grand Central. I arranged the bread and pastry displays, learned how to make good coffee and made sandwiches–mostly I remember the daily marathon of making sandwiches during the lunch rush. I’ve always loved their breads with their fabulous crusts and chewy interiors.

Grand Central Bakery's new Whole Grain Sandwich Loaf

Now, however, they have a new kind of bread which in some ways is nothing like the breads I grew up on and tend to gravitate towards. However, it is packed with seeds and whole grains (very German!) but is made in a more classic American sandwich bread style, i.e. softer and more tender. What I like about it though is that it still seems like a real loaf of bread, not something that is overly processed or engineered, which is what most sandwich bread seems like to me. Note the lovely mouse hole, as we called those irregular holes as children, which to me signals real bread. I recently picked up a loaf and used it every which way.

With Sharp Cheddar and my mother's Bread & Butter Pickles, about to be grilled. . .

The grilled version of the sharp cheddar and bread & butter pickle sandwich was not very photogenic but boy was it good. A friend inspired me to make the below version with fresh goat cheese, minced, fresh thyme and cheddar and then I made another version with a bunch of parsley in addition to the thyme. All are worth repeating and were devoured by neighborhood adults and kids alike.

With fresh goat cheese and herbs and more cheddar. . .

The crunchy, gooey, savory sandwiches before they disappeared.

And finally, the bread served as a good vehicle for my leftover slice of asparagus and snap pea frittata that I enjoyed in the back yard on one of the sunny (!!!!) days we’ve had recently.

Frittata sandwich with arugula and some sharp cheddar, again.

This bread is available in the Portland and Seattle areas at all the Grand Central Bakery storefronts but also in Portland at Pastaworks, Zupans, Whole Foods, New Seasons and Beaumont Market. And for those of you who do not live in the area, I hope you have a good alternative.

Lastly, to further honor my erstwhile employer, I’m going to give away a copy of the Grand Central Baking Book co-authored by the lovely Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson. This book is a collection of many of the bakery’s beloved treats for any time of day, sweet or savory.  So leave a comment about bread and/or sandwiches and I’ll randomly choose a winner to receive this gorgeous book.

Lastly, there are still spots available in my June 23rd Lunch Time Class and the June 25th improv class in which we’ll truly cook with what we have and collectively come up with a menu.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

23 Comments Post a comment
  1. Your post reminded me about good memories and bread. My husband’s family has an Irish tradition of Soda bread that I have adopted. My daughter, Rose (5) and I frequently make this large, lovely loaf of bread and now include a multigrain flour mix that is truly heaven. She is growing up learning to make this bread and learning about her family tradition and heritage. Thanks for the reminder about how food, family and history are connected.

    June 7, 2011
  2. Gail #


    June 7, 2011
  3. Sue #

    I can’t wait to try your grilled sandwich with homemade pickles! New to me but sounds wonderful!!

    June 7, 2011
  4. regis #

    I was drooling over this cookbook just yesterday. All our talk about baking the no knead bread at our Sunday class enticed me to use my carb allowances for good Grand Central bread–while there I almost bought the cookbook. I am also waiting for my shipment of Flying Squirrel peanut butter from Eugene to use with this new GC sandwich bread–supposed to be devine—now I will have two nostalgic childhood treats—grilled cheese and pb&j. I only need your mother’s bread and butter pickles! awesome! thanks for the post.

    June 7, 2011
  5. I can relate to your story and love to good bread. When I was home-shopping, I specifically picked my house because it was 1 block away from a Grand Central Bakery storefront… OK, maybe not specifically, but it was a huge plus 🙂

    June 7, 2011
  6. I’ve experimented with making all kinds of bread, and am currently using the Tassajara basic bread recipe, which I love with an intense passion. All whole wheat (except I throw in a little rye), light, with lovely texture and crumb… I am a big fan. But where baking is concerned, I’m always willing to try something new!

    June 7, 2011
  7. littlejoepieweed #

    Looking forward to trying Grand Central’s new loaf. I love the Como loaf for toast and grilled cheese sandwiches (soon to be grilled cheese and pickle sandwiches.) I also like a quick grilled meatless version of the Reuben sandwich with swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and dressing as I don’t usually have corned beef around, but almost always have the other ingredients in the fridge. Give it a try, it’s really delicious.

    June 7, 2011
  8. Elizabeth F #

    I enjoy making bread. I use recipe from Red Star Yeast cookbook I have had about 30 years. The standard is the Honey of a Wheat bread and the recipe makes 2 loaves. We normally form one loaf and the other becomes either sweet rolls or monkey bread or pecan rolls or a pizza crust or soft breadsticks. I have also made pitas and bagels. I want to try baguettes someday. I dropped my daughter off a sandwich at work the other day and she posted on her Facebook “best PBandJ sandwich ever!”

    June 7, 2011
  9. Adriane #

    I love Grand Central. I signed up for a CSA box from Creative Organics out of Eugene. My pick up location is the Grand Central Bakery in Multnomah. Grand Central is a big supporter of CSAs and throws in a free loaf of bread or pastry with my pick up. How cool is that?

    June 7, 2011
  10. Tory Stevens #

    Never one to pass up a contest, I’ll add my first comment…although I devour your blog weekly! Having grown up in the same (extended) family, I can assure you that there are still lots of bread bakers among us…even though we didn’t have the German influence! I have tried many recipes trying to duplicate the chewy crust that I love. Bittman comes closest. Not being in either Portland or Seattle, I’d love to see what the Grand Central recipes can do!! Wish me luck 🙂

    June 7, 2011
  11. There is nothing like a house full of the smell of baking bread – a nearly endless amount of variations, when you start to experiment with different kinds of flours, herbs, nuts, seeds, and so on and on. And that’s BEFORE you get to all the delicious possibilities of sandwich ingredients. Yum. Excuse me, I need to go make some lunch now… 🙂

    June 7, 2011
  12. Leonie #

    I must say, ditto with regards to living close to grand central and also adoring their whole grain sandwich bread. thanks for the pics and inspiration, think we’re taking a walk to the bakery and making grilled cheese this afternoon. perfect with the gorgeous greens i picked up today from my csa.

    June 7, 2011
  13. Quisicosa #

    I thought I knew how to make a good grilled sandwich, with several years of grill work under my belt. But my teenage daughter brought me down a few pegs the other day. She used homemade whole grain with provolone and grilled red peppers, carmelized onion and some marinated artichoke heart. She grilled it in a cast iron skillet on lower heat that I would have thought for a longer time than I do and produced a super crunchy beautiful sandwich I would be proud to serve at work. Put me to shame and made me proud all in one beautiful bite…

    June 7, 2011
  14. Jennifer #

    Your blog was just recommended to me today by a friend and I can see why. Your post today reminded of my mother who always made 4 loaves of homemade bread on Monday morning while we were growing up and now I enjoy making bread for my family. Pickle sandwiches, using my own canned sweet pickles, are one of our family favorites so I’m excited to try your version. It sounds delicious.

    June 7, 2011
  15. Karen Farmer #

    Thanks for bringing up bread! I’ve been baking all our bread for several years, but there’s still one loaf I can’t seem to duplicate. I can turn out crusty, rustic loaves or dark, dense, flavorful ones. I can manage lovely oat breads and a fine whole wheat one. But the one remains elusive is, as you mentioned, the softer, more tender (yet resilient) sandwich bread. Maybe the GC cookbook has it… Hope springs eternal!

    June 7, 2011
  16. Liz #

    I made my first loaf of bread last summer – with cottage cheese and dill. So delicious, fluffy, and flavorful! I’d like to try more recipes, since that one loaf made for delicious days of snacking, but other whole wheat recipes that I’ve tried haven’t had the same magic.

    June 7, 2011
  17. Definitely a bread lover/baker and one of my favorite breads is…..okay, wait I can’t decide! This book looks awesome!

    June 7, 2011
  18. Ginna #

    I’m always threatening to move to Portland, but since I haven’t made it yet, I don’t have easy access to a Grand Central bakery. I’ve spent the past year enjoying the culinary explorations of my roommate, who (among other things) used the Tartine cookbook and his homemade starter to fuel his breadmaking. There was no reason (or room) for me to make the couple of loaves a week that used to be my standard. But now we’ve both moved, and I was planning to dust off James Beard again to rev up my baking engines. It would be *much* more fun to check out a new cookbook that sounds so appealing, though! Bring on the chewy, seedy loaves! My oven is ready!

    June 7, 2011
  19. Trish #

    I love good whole grain bread, but it’s impossible to find in my area.

    June 8, 2011
  20. Kristen #

    Mmmm, I love good chewy bread. Pick me, please!

    June 8, 2011
  21. Kristina Thomas #

    There’s nothing like a sandwich on Good bread! Yummy! Now I’m hungry! 🙂

    June 8, 2011
  22. I think bread is my favorite food. I could eat it all day.

    June 9, 2011
  23. Amy #

    Over the past 3 years, I have enjoyed learning how to make bread. I have come to find a deep-rooted love for it- the browning crust in the oven, the crispy touch as you transfer it to a cooling rack, and, of course, the heavenly aroma it leaves behind. I remember growing up around a neighbor who baked bread, and was infamous about her rolls. Flocks of kids would come to her if they knew she was baking bread. I hope to share the love like she did.

    June 10, 2011

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