Chocolate and Hazelnut Heart-Shaped Bread (February)
Hearts and chocolate for valentine's day, get it? Lots of rich chocolate chips, which almost, but not quite, overwhelm scattered chunks of hazelnut, make this a definite dessert bread. The heavy chocolate and crisp crust reminded us of a chocolate-chip bagel, but with a more open, slightly sour crumb.
Multigrain Light Pull-apart Rolls (April)
The hearty whole-wheat-and-grain pull-apart rolls brought to mind the chunky wheat breads of our childhood while sesame seeds on top were nicely toasted for a burst of flavor.
Rosemary Focaccia Buns (May)
They look like kaiser rolls, but ripping one opens reveals an airy, open hole structure, glossy with extra-virgin olive oil and mildly scented with rosemary. The crust is thin and crackly. If you've ever thought that putting a burger on focaccia sounds like a good idea, these buns would be the ideal candidate to test the theory.
Sourdough Rustic Loaf (October)
Our favorite of the bunch, the sourdough rustic loaf is mild and chewy on the inside and perfectly crispy out (the crust got the most compliments) with just enough sourdough tang to make for a killer sandwich or some top-notch buttered toast. Pain D'Avignon calls this an "Eastern European-style bread," which might be one reason why the Yugoslav-owned bakery gets it so right.
Raisin-Pecan Pull-apart Rolls (November)
These rolls are sweet and heavy. Like your aunt's fruitcake, they're real rib-stickers. And as with the heart-shaped chocolate and hazelnut loaf, the sweet ingredients sometimes overwhelm the nuts. But there were plenty of fruit-and-grain fanatics in the office for whom these could become a staple.