Sandwiches are the oft-unsung heroes of lunch-on-the-go.
Two slices of bread slapped around a filling to be downed in transit, in front of the computer or on a park bench; convenient, simple and tasty, the hand-held meal can be found most anywhere and so can be just as easily taken for granted.
One bakery-cafe, however, knows that a great sandwich can be much more than that.
The Barn ― which first opened as a bake studio-cafe in Sinsa-dong before launching its second spot, a cafe-bakery in Seoul’s Gahoe-dong in December ― puts food-in-a-bun in the spotlight with its high-end, assemble-to-order approach.
“The initial concept was bread and sandwiches,” said The Barn baker Lee Yong-bum.
|The Barn’s chicken breast and mushroom sandwich — crafted from artisanal potato ciabatta, basil pesto chicken and sauteed mushrooms — is served with a light salad. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
To get the foundation for The Barn’s sandwiches down pat, Lee and crew opted for a ciabatta base fashioned from a domestic flour- and potato-based dough.
“Though potatoes are not a traditional ciabatta dough ingredient, they add elasticity to the bread,” said Lee, 38, who racked up experience working in bakeries and training at the Tokyo-based Ecole de Patisserie de Tokio.
The dough is fermented for 16 hours at low temperatures to “soak in plenty of moisture so that when it bakes, the bread is nice and chewy.”
The resulting ciabatta, available plain or jazzed up with black rice, is then sliced in half, given a quick stint in a pan slicked down with garlic-infused olive oil before being used to swaddle mouthwatering fillings.
Around three options are available for the picking, including a hefty yet delicately concocted chicken-and-mushroom version as well as a tongue-teasing prosciutto-and-fig rendition.
For the chicken-and-mushroom sandwich, shredded chicken breast is tossed in housemade basil pesto and paired with sauteed mushrooms before being packed deliciously bulging between two slabs of still-warm ciabatta.
With the prosciutto-and-fig version, Lee and team allow their culinary itch to run a tad more rampant.
Walnut-flecked cream cheese is spread on the warm ciabatta which is then stuffed with prosciutto, brie cheese, tomato, rucola and handmade red wine fig compote.
All ciabatta sandwiches come plated with a light salad.
Those who cannot wait for sandwiches to be made in-house can opt instead for two ready-to-go options made with bread crafted from flour and partially milled rice.
A blend of partially milled rice and flour is also used to make The Barn’s soft, sweet buns, while fiber-rich flour is used to make the establishment’s pain de mie.
Dessert is also available at The Barn’s Gahoe-dong outlet, including the establishment’s well-executed carrot cake.
“I went for a carrot cake with a light, spongy crumb,” said Lee.
Layers of moist carrot cake are slathered in a vanilla bean-flecked cream cheese frosting for a slightly decadent yet equally delicate treat.
Pair that with the serene atmosphere of The Barn’s latest perch in storied Bukchon for an ideal sit-back, sip-and-chew experience.
The Barn Cafe and Home Bakery
|The Barn Cafe and Home Bakery opened in Seoul’s Gahoe-dong in December. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
― 1F, 170-4 Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul; (02) 766-6260; www.thebarnbake.com
― Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
― Sandwiches cost 7,000 won to 11,000 won, cake costs 6,000 won
By Jean Oh (firstname.lastname@example.org