Best Bread Service, August 2012
A simple basket of sliced carbs won't do at Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, where pastry chef Sherry Yard is behind this elaborate quartet that rises above the rest.
These 40-gram miniatures are the refined versions of pretzels that Yard, the daughter of a Brooklyn firefighter, used to buy from curbside carts as a child. Each receives a final “everything” dusting of coriander, sesame, poppy and caraway seeds, and pretzel salt—applied evenly so no one flavor dominates.
Moistened with olive oil and flecked with thyme before being packed into ring molds, pucks of focaccia are finished with a dab of tomato confit and a smidgen of goat cheese. The dough is dense and rich; the bottom, as crisp as a good corn muffin's.
Montana flour serves as the basis for these hand-formed demi-baguettes, which are leavened with a starter that Yard has been nurturing for 20 years. The artistic slashes on each piece swell open in the 550-degree heat.
Sculpted with skillful scissor work and baked in a blazing pizza oven, olive-packed épis evoke the power of the hearth when placed on the white tablecloth. The four tips of their traditional shape—they're meant to look like ears of wheat—invite guests to share.