Zachary Golper, Lucky Peach
At its heart, bread baking is the art of turning dry, relatively flavorless ground grain—flour—into a delicious food with great complexity and variety. There are many tricks to the bread baker’s art, but no escaping the fact that it all begins with flour. Here’s what you need to know about the main types out there—and what they mean to a bread baker.
Leslie Pariseau, Grub Street
Far and away, this Brooklyn shop’s croissants most consistently nail the rare perfect balance between an exterior whose lightly glazed layers break into golden snowfall when pulled apart, and a dense, faintly sweet interior whose innards are still defined enough to display the delicate swirl that’s indicative of a perfect pastry.
Matthew Zuras, VICE/MUNCHIES
Medium-rare might be optimal for a prime piece of hanger steak, but Zachary Golper thinks that we should embrace well-done.
Well-done bread, that is.
Jeff Gordinier, The New York Times
Zachary Golper gets a strange look in his eyes when he talks about his miche.
Mr. Golper, who oversees the ovens at Bien Cuit, a bakery in Brooklyn, is part of a starter culture of obsessive, boundary-pushing bread makers in New York City and around the country. Connoisseurs consider his miche, a French-style country loaf, something of a crown jewel. But it certainly doesn’t shine like one; bulbous and heat-bludgeoned, it looks more like something that might have been used as a shield in a Stone Age skirmish.
Bien Cuit, the exceptional Cobble Hill bakery, is – with good reason – best known for its enormous, crusty loaves of bread. Its croissants and danishes, always burnished to a dark chestnut color, are a close second. But a good portion of its pastry case is always devoted to another category of carbohydrates: pretty, delicate, French-style desserts. These should not be overlooked.
You don't expect to taste rye in a crunchy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside ficelle form, which makes this fragrant, slowly fermented loaf all the more surprising. It's our favorite from this newish Brooklyn bakery, who has already started supplying some of our favorite restaurants in the city.
Serena Dai, Eater
Bien Cuit always stops taking on new clients if they feel like growth will impact the quality of their baked goods, Wheatcroft says. They've had to start a waiting list or tell larger clients that they can't deliver for a while as they figure out operations. When Bien Cuit was moving the wholesale bakery from the retail shop to the Sunset Park bakery, one client waited nearly six months, Wheatcroft says. "Quality comes first," she says. "If you have to take a break, you do that."
Laura Shunk, The Village Voice
I'm following Zach Golper through his U-shaped wholesale bakery in Sunset Park, learning about how Bien Cuit mixes, ferments, and bakes its bread and pastries, when he drops a recommendation that shatters everything I thought I knew about eating bread. "Don't eat bread fresh out of the oven," he says. "Let it sit and cool, so that the gas dissipates into the crumb and locks in the scent and aroma." Some breads are even better on day two, he says, when the crust is no longer crackly. I press him and his wife/business partner, Kate Wheatcroft, further about how they enjoy bread, and they tell me to tear hunks off the loaf ("Don't slice," says Golper) and eat them with a little cultured butter.
Marian Bull, Lucky Peach
If you want to go to a very good bakery in Brooklyn, you want to go to Bien Cuit, where the bread case overflows with crusty and hole-y loaves in every shade of chestnut brown. Some of them have ridged backs like a friendly flour-based dinosaur, and the baguettes sport edges so pointy they’re classified as deadly weapons in fourteen states. All the breads that Zachary Golper makes here are slow-fermented, naturally leavened, and use traditional methods (and occasionally nontraditional ingredients); his miche is deep and dark and nutty and perfect for fried toast, though it is also okay to tear into it before you get home.
Don’t ignore the pastries, either. One time, a friend of mine heard a Brooklyn toddler scream “I WANT A PAIN AU CHOCOLAT” in perfect French here. You will probably want one, too, since Golper’s croissants are some of the best in the city—you’ll know it when they shatter all over you.
Zachary Golper’s sought-after breads at Bien Cuit are the product of his years as a journeyman baker. He was introduced to baking as an apprentice on an Oregon farm where he made bread by candlelight in the wee hours and later moved on to learn under some of the world’s most renowned: World Baking Champions in Portland and Seattle and a M.O.F and World Pastry Champion in Las Vegas.
Ligaya Mishan, The New York Times
Zachary Golper learned to make bread in a sheep barn, under guttering candles in the dead of night.
He was 19 and living on an organic farm and meditation center in Oregon, where he had discovered that he was better at manual labor (driving a tractor, tending the orchard) than freeing his mind. He offered himself as an apprentice to the resident baker, who insisted that he start work at 1 a.m. and mix dough by hand, because “electricity creates negative vibrations.”
Alicia Kennedy, Food & Wine
For those of us who can digest wheat, the war on gluten has subsided. So, what’s next? It might be tending to your own sourdough starter or buying an assortment of whole-grain options at the farmers’ market; it could even be milling your own flour at home...
To get in-depth flour guidance and sourdough starter tips, we talked to two of the best in baking: Novick-Finder and Bien Cuit’s Zachary Golper.
Kimia Kalbasi, The Daily Meal
Brooklyn’s nationally renowned bakery Bien Cuit has officially opened up its newest space at Grand Central Market in Grand Central Terminal. With revamped offerings like key lime éclairs, dark and rich chocolate mousse cake, and several not-so-typical flavors of cookies including salted chocolate buckwheat and thyme shortbread, James Beard Award-nominated chef Zachary Golper is mesmerizing Grand Central Terminal’s visitors with signature breads and artisanal desserts. The Daily Meal had the opportunity to chat with Golper on the pastry and dessert focus over at the bustling new spot.
Food & Wine
Translating to “well done,” this popular Brooklyn bakery’s name is an indication of its baking philosophy: Breads and pastries are all baked longer than you might expect. In the case of croissants, that means an enticingly dark outer crust that’s caramelized and deeply flavored. Chef-owner Zachary Golper, twice nominated for a “Best Baker” James Beard accolade, creates pain au chocolat, almond, almond chocolate, ham and brie, and artichoke and goat cheese croissants as well. The almond in particular—double-baked with brandy—often sell out by 10am on weekends.
Alicia Kennedy, Edible Brooklyn
Yesterday, we stopped into Bien Cuit in Cobble Hill, where chef Zachary Golper showed us how he makes their buckwheat loaf in the above video. He started out by explaining the reasons he chose this blend of flours, which we’ve transcribed below. Watch the full video to see how he mixes the bread and to hear more of his bread-making tips.
Chris Crowley, Grub Street
Up in midtown, Brooklyn’s ever-popular Bien Cuit has opened a location in Grand Central Terminal, with a slew of new baked goods. There’s an apricot and blossom loaf; cookies like ginger muscovado and thyme shortbread; Meyer-lemon danishes; cakes like carrot pound and chocolate rye; and pastries, including honey-wheat éclairs and jam bars.
Michael Harlan Turkell, Dirt Online
Unlike steak, no one ever asks you how you want your bread cooked. At Bien Cuit, “well done” is an expectation (in fact, that’s what the bakery’s name means in French). Drive a few miles down the Brooklyn Queens Expressway from their Smith Street storefront in Cobble Hill to a very industrial part of Sunset Park. Follow your nose down a long, narrow alleyway and you'll find Zachary Golper baking some of the best breads in the country.
Food & Wine
Zachary Golper's French roots run deep: He apprenticed with a third generation patissier in Provence before running the bread program at Philly's acclaimed French restaurant Le Bec-Fin. So it's no surprise that his Boerum Hill bakery looks to France in both name—bien cuit translates to "well done"—and tradition, with a selection of sublime French breads and pastries that include chewy baguettes and long-fermented miches (a dark-crusted French country bread) that come out of the oven three times a day.
Andrew Coe, Serious Eats
At Bien Cuit, his new Smith Street bakery, Zachary Golper is assembling a team of top-notch "bread hands." By that, he means workers with hands that are "delicate but strong and dexterous" and with an instinct for shaping dough.
Terry Honsaker, Food52
When I removed this book from the wrapper, the open spine and black pages first appeared to be thick cardboard, like a child’s board book. Once I flipped the pages through my fingers they separated, revealing a striking layout and photography: The loaves on the pages look real enough to eat and inspiring enough to bake.
Alberto Ruiz, So Good
Bien Cuit is the Frenchified name of an excellent bakery in Brooklyn. It is not one of those fashionable establishments with beautiful aesthetics and attractive products. It is a bakery where real bread is sold, where this millenary art is blessed and where most of the products are made from whole grains.
Kristin Iversen, Brooklyn Magazine
To hear chef Zachary Golper, owner of bakery Bien Cuit and author of forthcoming cookbook Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, talk about whole grains, fermentation, and the cultural importance of cultivating grains is to instantly understand why bread plays a vital part in so many religious rituals; this simultaneously humble yet exalted food seems to inspire the purest type of fanaticism.
Sara Ventiera, Zagat
Acclaimed Brooklyn bakery Bien Cuit is heading to Grand Central Market this spring, bringing James Beard–finalist Zachary Golper’s artisanal breads, pastries and desserts to Midtown.
Jen Carlson, Gothamist
Bien Cuit makes truly beautiful croissants, intricate in design and flavored with equal creativity. And the Brooklyn cafe's offering of an artichoke and goat cheese-stuffed croissant may just be their best—one fan wrote an entire essay about the menu item, a favorite among regulars. The dough is perfectly fresh and light; the filling is not overpowering, allowing for the croissant's natural flavor to come through; and the design is such that you can peel back layers one by one, if you prefer slowly picking at your pastries.
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