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Air Bread Philly Cheesesteak

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This is a spectacular molecular gastronomy version of a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. The “air bread” is crispy on the outside and hollow on the inside. It really feels more like a hollow cracker than bread. The air bread is then filled with aged cheddar sauce and topped with an ultra-thin slice of Kobe beef.

It looks like a traditional piece of bread with a slice of beef on top but as soon as diners grab it and feel the unexpected lightness, they start wondering what is going on. After inspecting the Air Bread Philly Cheesesteak for a few seconds, they’ll finally decide to take a bite and discover the crispiness of the hollow bread and the sharpness of the warm cheddar sauce in combination with the Kobe beef slice.

Air Bread Philly Cheesesteak

The Air Bread Philly Cheesesteak is a creation of molecular gastronomy Chef Jose Andres of The Bazaar restaurant in Los Angeles.

Air Bread Ingredients

- 107.5 g (3.8 oz) warm water

- 6.5 g (0.25 oz) fresh yeast

- 2 g (0.05 oz) sugar

- 235 g (8.3 oz) all-purpose flour (better with high protein content, unbleached flour usually contains more protein, look for a flour with about 3g of protein per ¼ cup)

- 2 g (0.07 oz) Kosher salt

- 27.5 g (1 oz) melted butter

- Kosher salt to sprinkle on top

Cheddar Cheese Sauce

- 150 g (5.3 oz) aged Cheddar cheese

- 150 g (5.3 oz) whole milk

- 6 g (0.2 oz) kosher salt

- 4 g (0.14 oz) sugar

Other Ingredients

- Thinly sliced Kobe beef (carpaccio style)

- Chopped chives

Air Bread Preparation

1- Stir together water, yeast and sugar in bowl of stand mixer.

2- Let stand 5 minutes to proof yeast.

3- Add flour, salt and butter and attach to stand mixer with dough hook.

5- Beat on low speed for 6 minutes or until dough comes together and forms a firm ball. If kneading by hand, with the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push and stretch the dough out in front of you, pull it back into a ball, then push out in front of you, pull it back into a ball, then push out and pull back again stretching the proteins and folding air as you work. The kneading by hand process should take about 10 minutes.

6- Remove bowl from mixer, cover and let dough rest in a warm place for 25 minutes.

7- Refrigerate bowl overnight.

8- The following day transfer dough to a warm place.

9- Preheat oven to 230 ˚C (450 ˚F).

10- Line sheet tray with parchment paper or with silicone mat.

11- Divide dough in half and using rolling pin or pasta machine roll out 1 piece of dough about 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick.

12- Cut dough into 1.5 inch squares and place them on sheet tray. Try other shapes too. One that I like is to grab a small piece of dough and with a rolling pin extend it in one direction to form an oval which will transform into a “zeppelin” when it puffs in the hot oven. Since it only takes 6 min to cook, it is very easy to test different shapes before you cook the rest of the dough.

13- Bake for 6 minutes until dough puffs up and turns golden brown.

14- Let cool down on wire rack to room temperature.

15- With syringe needle, punch one small hole in each “air bread”.

16- Store air bread in dry place in sealed container.

Cheddar Cheese Sauce Preparation

1- Shred cheese with box grater and transfer it to a blender.

2- Bring milk to a simmer in small saucepan.

3- Add hot milk, salt and sugar to the cheese in the blender and blend until you obtain a smooth liquid.

4- Pass through a fine sieve and reserve in a covered container in a warm place until ready to fill the “air bread”

Assemble and Serve

1- Fill syringe (without the needle) with the warm cheese sauce.

2- Inject cheese sauce into the “air bread” using previously made hole. Do not over-fill the air bread or it may break.

3- Place a slice of Kobe beef on top of the “air bread”.

4- Sprinkle with Kosher salt flakes and chopped chives.

5- Serve immediately or the “air bread” will get soggy and will not be crispy.

Cheese in crackerServing Suggestions

- Serve the “air bread” without the Kobe beef. Just sprinkle them with Kosher salt before placing them in the oven.

- Spread some grilled onion puree on the air bread and then place the slice of Kobe beef on top.

- Sear the Kobe beef with a kitchen torch.

- Replace the Kobe beef with sliced mushrooms.