Los Angeles is not a city for bread. We can claim tortilla supremacy north of the border, sure, but we're decidedly lacking when it comes to leavened loaves.
But purists can now get their fix, thanks to bread obsessive Mark Stambler.
Working out of his Silver Lake home--which is outfitted with a flour mill and a wood-burning oven in the backyard--Stambler makes his signature Pagnol loaves with nothing more than flour, water, salt and the wild yeasts of central L.A.
This is one rustic loaf: The domed top cracks and blisters when baked in the 900° oven. Inside the chewy crust, the moist and somewhat textured crumb is speckled brown thanks to Stambler's flour blend, which includes 30 percent whole grains.
And with those whole grains comes so much more flavor: The earthiness of rye and spelt combines with the sour tang of sourdough to make for a loaf that needs no butter, olive oil, jam, or any sandwichy distractions.
Because Stambler's bread is so time-consuming to make (considering the proofing, kneading and wood-fire stoking), his output is limited. The Cheesestore of Silverlake sells loaves on Fridays and Saturdays, and Stambler recently began supplying the Silver Lake Farms CSA with Pagnol loaves.
The Cheesestore of Silverlake, 3926-28 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; 323-644-7511 or cheesestoresl.com