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.
Which makes sense. After all, Mr. Golper, like many comrades in the revolutionary salt-flour-water brigade, is engaged in an ancient and ceaseless battle: against the whims of working with fermenting dough whose personality can shift on a daily or even hourly basis; against the high costs of making bread in what he considers the purest manner; against decades of commercialization that have trained the American eye and palate to expect bread that is soft, gummy, pale and tasteless.
Karen Tedesco, The Village Voice
Like any true artisan, Zachary Golper says he believes there's beauty in handmade imperfection; “With every individual roll, every individual baguette, there's no exact uniformity — ever. So many bakeries out there have robots make the food. There's way more of those bakeries than us.”
It's been more than four years since Golper opened his Brooklyn bakery Bien Cuit (120 Smith Street, Brooklyn; 718-852-0200) with his wife and partner Kate Wheatcroft, where he approaches the practice of old-world bread baking with the passion of a dedicated craftsman. The spot has become a favored destination, for both the Boerum Hill locals who stop in throughout the day for espresso, inspired pastries and tartine sandwiches, as well as bread pilgrims paying homage to the art of cold, slow fermentation, who come from further afield to get their hands on Golper's burnished-brown "well baked" crusty loaves.
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.
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.
Golper is the baking brains behind Bien Cuit, a Brooklyn-based temple to slow-fermented breads, which are often cooked at unusually low temperatures for usually long periods of time. The result is a loaf with a thick mahogany crust that’s full of such depth of flavor that standard baguettes look and taste positively premature by comparison.
French pastry chef Zachary Golper knows how to make a mean chocolate buckwheat cookie. Bon Appétit’s Alison Roman visits him at Brooklyn bakery Bien Cuit to see how he does it.
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.
Later, standing over my sink with their miche, a massive, round loaf made with rye and wheat flours that undergoes 68 hours of cold fermentation before baking, I decide that they're wrong on one count — buttering this bread almost seems abhorrent. It distracts from the complex tang, subtle sweet note, and underlying nuttiness. This is a far cry from white loaves, and each bite invites contemplation, like a good wine or cup of coffee. I don't want to taste butter with this bread — I just want to taste bread.
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