We rounded up 11 baguettes and stiratos from New York bakeries and brought them over to Rockefeller Center's Bouchon Bakery, where chef Altieri and Bouchon's head baker Ben Hershberger picked the best of the lot.
The breads, from left to right (above): Almondine Bakery, Silver Moon Bakery, Grandaisy Bakery, Amy’s Bread, Le Pain Quotidien, Whole Foods, Levain Bakery, Blue Ribbon Bakery, Sullivan Street Bakery, Dean and Deluca (Pain D’avignon), Balthazar Bakery.
Pastry chef Alessandra Altieri, Left, with head baker Ben Hershberger, Right.
We asked each chef to pick their top three favorites. Both Altieri and Hershberger chose Sullivan Street Bakery and Balthazar Bakery as one and two, respectively. Altieri's third pick was Levain Bakery; Hershberger's third was Amy's Bread. See their comments below:
1. Sullivan Street Bakery
Alessandra Altieri: For me, this was the crust. It was crunchy, but it wasn’t thick and hard to get through.
Ben Hershberger: It has an excellent crust, it also has a very nice crumb structure, it’s easy to eat, and it has a nice depth of flavor. You can tell it was properly fermented.
2. Balthazar Bakery
AA: This one was crust and then the texture on the inside. To me it's a nice universal bread.
BH: I like the crumb, the texture inside, and the flavor.
AA: This is something I could eat on a sandwich.
BH: Easy, I would put a nice piece of ham and cheese and a lot of butter, and eat it just like that.
3. Levain Bakery (Altieri's pick)
AA: This was one of my favorites. It has a really nice nutty flavor to it, which might overpower a sandwich, so it’s good with something nice and crisp, like salad.
BH: I would bet money this one has overnight fermentation. I’m not going to bet money, but I would.
4. Amy's Bread (Hershberger's pick)
BH: It just seems to me like the typical classic New York Italian bread so many people try to achieve, and you don’t see it as often. I think it’s a great specimen of typical New York Italian crusty bread.