Honest bread at HEWN
We've been anxious to visit HEWN, the small new artisan bakery in Evanston, IL. We finally had a chance on a visit to Chicago last week, so called ahead to reserve loaves of Country, Whole Wheat Country and some fruit scones (they sell out of everything daily).
The breads were waiting for us in a paper bag, each wrapped in white paper stamped with Hewn's logo and lovingly tied with string: serious about their products. All were excellent, earning the Yellow Jersey for the best bakery bread we've found in the Chicago area. The Country is a standard, mostly white levain boule with moderately open crumb, mild tang and golden/chestnut crust. The Whole Wheat Country is also a natural levain, has a slightly tighter crumb but a truly memorable flavor with notes of rye and molasses despite probably having neither in the formula. The WW crumb and elongated loaf shape strike just the right balance between that for a table and sandwich bread, and works for both. The scones are exceptional. Not the sugary triangles so common in US coffeeshops and bakeries, but slightly sweet, more bread-like and golden crusted. A treat with butter, jam and sweet tea.
I saved most of my baker-enthusiast questions for another visit, but asked what flour they were using, and were they milling any of their own. No to the latter, but co-owner Julie answered the former by pushing open the door to the kitchen behind her to reveal a pallet stacked with sacks of Central Milling. Check.
Two thumbs up.