Davis has lots of breads. It is requested that this page ultimately document the kinds of breads available in Davis, tips about making bread given the hardness of the water and the dry air, which restaurants give bread for free, recipes, and discussion about where to get the best bread broken down by type. When buying bread, don't just consider price per loaf, but price per pound. Higher quality breads are invariably denser.
Types of Bread
True bagels are a complicated undertaking. And many people, after a long diet of fake bagels, don't like the real thing. To make a true bagel, you must form the dough and hold it at reduced, but not refrigerator, temperatures, overnight. Then the bagel needs to be boiled and baked. Each step is important. Using sourdough to make bagels gives them a distinctive taste, and helps their shelf life. A bagel should have a crisp outer shell and a chewy inside. You should have to work at it to eat a real bagel. Like any good bread, a bagel should be flavorful too. The supermarket variety are frauds on all these counts, but are cheaper to make and don't easily go stale. Expect to pay at least $.75 for a bagel. The classic size for a bagel is about 4 ounces. As they get larger, they lose quality. Instead of having one giant bad bagel, you'll enjoy two small good ones more. And you get to have different toppings on them!
Birdseed bread is a popular dark bread baked by The Upper Crust Baking Co. that contains nine whole grains (wheat, barley, corn, brown rice, rye, triticale, millet, oat, soy and flax), as well as raisins and walnuts.
A traditional Jewish bread that is prepared with eggs, sugar, and white flour. The dough is almost always braided and coated with eggwash, giving it a decorative and golden appearance. The sweetness of the bread makes it the superior choice for french toast. You can buy it at the Village Bakery, Davis Food Co-Op or at The Upper Crust Baking Co. at the Farmer's Market, which sell it in plain, poppy, sesame, raisin, chocolate chip, and "challahpeño cheese" varieties.
Focaccia is a soft, flat Italian bread, made from white flour, yeast, olive oil, salt, and water. Typically it is flavored with herbs. The Village Bakery makes an excellent rosemary focaccia. It is great for sandwiches, and many supermarkets sell focaccia of varying quality.
This bread is totally the basic bread, and it is found at every supermarket. It should be fluffy and warm, but most places sell it thick and cold. Traditionally, it contains only flour, water, yeast, and salt.
Originating from northwest India, Naan frequently accompanies entrees in Indian restaurants. It is a flat, leavened bread made from white flour that is typically fried.
If made properly, rye bread is a hearty bread much denser than breads made exclusively with wheat flour. There are multiple varieties, including Russian rye, and Jewish rye which has caraway seeds. Rye bread is ideal for making hot-meat sandwiches (e.g., reubens or hot pastrami) and other sandwiches that demand a bread strong in flavor and texture.
Partly because of the popularity of subs, sandwiches places serving rye bread are in the minority in Davis. For home use, you can buy airy rye breads at most supermarkets for $3.00 or more, or at the Davis Food Co-Op for upwards of $2.00. The latter's offerings are fresher and are far sturdier.
The Upper Crust Baking Co. produces a traditional medium rye (Jewish or Deli Rye) with caraway powder and whole caraway seeds.
This bread is like French bread, but it's got a sour-er taste, because there is a bacteria starter added in addition to yeast. It tastes wonderful, smells wonderful, and is not so plain like French bread. You can get it at any of the supermarkets for pretty cheap. For real sourdough bread, you can try the loaves offered by The Upper Crust Baking Co. (whose starter is based on a pure strain of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis sourced from the UC Davis Food Science & Technology department) or you have to make your own or go to San Francisco.
Sourdough starter contains wild yeasts—strains differ by climate and method of starter production. Warm climates and wet (soupy) starters yield lactic acid-producing species, so sourdough breads are milder, rounder, slightly buttery. Cool climates and relatively dry starters yield acetic acid-producing species, so sourdough breads are sharper, tangy, with a whiff of vinegar. San Francisco sourdough has the acetic acid dough profile.
This is a flat bread made of corn or or wheat flour. They are fried prior to packaging, and some think the one's fried in lard taste better. Beware: Many supermarket tortillas are made with hydrogenated fats; read the label!
This is made with white flour. Bread has a slightly sweet, mild flavor, which makes it ideal for most bread uses. Excellent for toast!
Polishing the wheat removes the bran and germ. This gives a flour with a longer shelf life and a more versatile role in the bakeshop, but in so doing, removes vitamins, minerals, oils, and fiber. In straight white flour, only starch and protein are present. Enrichment of the flour will add back B vitamins and some minerals, but may not add back all trace nutrients. Fortification (i.e. IronKids with Calcium) adds vitamins/minerals that are not naturally present. Unbleached flour is golden. Bleaching of flour accelerates the oxidizing aging process, which gives white flour a white color and better dough physics characteristics, desirable for mass factory production.
Most Davis bakeries offer a form of white bread. The Upper Crust Baking Co. sells a "Fermented French" sliced loaf at the Davis Farmers Market that uses unbleached wheat flour and had a hearty, yeasty flavor.
Whole wheat bread
Beware: "Wheat bread" is not the same as whole wheat bread. The latter has a specific definition, the former doesn't. "Wheat bread" a marketing term, which often means "white bread with caramel coloring added". Whole wheat bread must be made with a portion of whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour is made by grinding up the whole wheat kernel, which includes the nutritious wheat germ and fiber-rich wheat bran. Whole wheat bread is not made from entirely whole wheat flour, as it wouldn't have enough gluten per unit volume to properly rise and hold together. (The presence of bran and germ particles interrupt the gluten matrix and weaken the tensile strength of the dough). Typically a 50/50 ratio of whole wheat flour and white/gluten flour is used. Sandwich shops, such as Subway, ask if one wants "white" or "wheat" bread, but both are wheat breads. The new USDA Food Guide Pyramid recommends that people consume half of their grain products as whole grain, the category under which whole wheat bread falls.
Breads can be made of all sorts of flours, including rice, potato, corn, rye, and others. Some people have dietary requirements (i.e. gluten intolerance) which preclude their eating wheat-based breads. Others just want to try something different. The Davis Food Co-op is the best source of these.
Places to buy bread
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My favorite breads: I think that Village Bakery does a good job on all of their products. My least favorite: I've never liked anything I've purchased from the couple who sells bread and pastries at the Farmer's Market (they don't have a sign indicating the name of the business). Bread making tips: Use a good bread machine! I have a Zojirushi, my 4th machine. This one stands up to whole grain bread, has many cycles, and a good timer. I buy lots of interesting bread making ingredients at the Coop. — NoelBruening
2005-10-30 22:12:22 The divisions are not between bread types, but between supermarket "bread" and real bread. Real sourdough bread, real French bread, even real white bread is all excellent. My favorite West Coast bakery is Noe Valley Bread in San Francisco -excellent whole wheat bread. I've been so disappointed in local breads I've all but given up trying them. —SteveDavison
- 2005-11-01 11:06:16 Obviously, once you've given up on local breads there is nothing left to do but take matters into your own hands, my roommate and girlfriend frequently bake their own delicious breads. —DavidReid
2005-11-20 As a baker who loves bagels, I radically changed the bagel section. It used to say bagels should be boiled not baked. If you only boil them, you get a doughy mess. There are few breads that are only boiled. Pierogies come to mind. — MikeAvery
2005-11-20 19:46:04 Co-op has rediciulously good prices for some very, very good bread. —ChristyMarsden
2006-04-21 00:55:53 Anyone have a home-made sourdough starter that started out here in Davis? Would you be willing to share a bit so I could get a local starter going? Mine died this Winter (it got too little attention sadly), and it would be cool to use a local variety (the one I had was east coast in origin). —EricKlein
2007-03-01 16:51:19 i think village bakery has the best bread. But they are often out of the good stuff at night. —MattHh