Lunch and More Bread

Yesterday I had lunch with a girlfriend and spent a lovely four hours or so just reminiscing about past, present and future activities and dreams. We hadn’t seen each other in about one year which is way too long, for I enjoy her company immensely. She makes me laugh and we share similar views on so many things. Plus the camaraderie of nursing binds us together forever as soul sisters if nothing else. Nurses  have a weird sense of humor sometimes which can be difficult for non-nursing or non-medical people to understand so there is a comfortableness among us. I gave her one of the loaves of bread I made the day before and I hope she enjoys it with butter, jam and feels the love baked within its crusty exterior.

This morning I am making another batch of the Tassajara basic yeast bread but as usually will probably tweak the recipe a bit to see what the end result will be, forever in the search for “my” perfect loaf of bread. The recipe I tweaked for the “sponge” is:

  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 + Tbsp yeast
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup instant potato flakes(my baker girlfriend’s secret ingredient)
  • 3 cups King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup King Arthur stone ground white whole wheat flour. Let rise for 45 minutes

I still want to incorporate about 1/2 cup of the 9 grain mixture into the second part of this recipe, but decided to cook it a little prior to folding it into the sponge later. I added 1 cup of water to the 1/2 cup 9 grain mix and cooked it on the stove until all the moisture was absorbed which didn’t take long. The 9 grain mixture sucked up the water like a camel refueling after a long trek across a desert. To the sponge I folded in:

  • 3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups King Arthur stone ground white wheat flour
  • ~1 cup of the 9-grain cooked mixture
  • 4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil

The final stages completed and one loaf into the oven. This time I divided the dough in half and baked a round loaf (tried putting this loaf into the woven basket, but once again no luck with getting it to hold the shape of the woven basket, so another boule). The other half of the dough I left to rest in the bowl. I will divide this half in half once again and shape into french baguettes, bake and pray that it all turns out. Onward….

I am very pleased with the final results. A great crust on the outside and the inner crumb is moist, light and tasty. I ripped an end off of one of the baguettes and enjoyed the fruits of my labor. I am anxious to try some cinnamon rolls and perhaps some raisin bread tomorrow.

Bake On!!!




Flour, Water and Yeast

Bread..the staff of life…Perhaps one of my biggest weaknesses is my love of bread! I would have made an excellent French or Italian woman for I think I could live happily ever after with just bread, cheese and fruit.

Lately I have been toying with an idea, stolen from one of my favorite movies Julie & Julia, where two timelines tell a superior story about the joy of cooking.  Julie decides to cook her way, in one year’s time, through Julia Child’s famous cookbook and blog her progress, trials, errors, travails, successes, disappointments. I am thinking I may try to bake my way through the Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown and document my adventure through my blog. Other helpful books I have acquired are Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, MD and Zoe Francois and Bread Alone by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik.

I think this endeavor was meant to be for various reasons…this past weekend I made a quick visit to my sister’s home in Burton. While I was there, an old friend of hers dropped by to visit. During our conversation we somehow started talking about bread and her friend mentioned the name of a bread book that was popular in the 70’s and that she had used as a young home cook. And then a friend of my sister’s son who was visiting on his way home to San Diego walked in and gave my sister a loaf of bread…bread that we would later enjoy as part of french dip sandwiches for our evening meal. Or perhaps I am being spurred on due to my recent failure in biscuit making (see previous post).

My sister immediately went to her bookcase and extracted two books on bread baking for me to peruse. We left her home and went to a delightful local bookshop to see if we could find other bread baking books. The quest had begun. With the bookstore stop behind us, we visited another local shop and did find a nice copy of the Great Big Cookie Cookbook. Should my adventure be baking my way through a book of cookie recipes? I knew my fellow workers would love the cookie option, but my heart was set on bread. I think my desire harkened back to when I was a young hippie-like Mother of two beautiful daughters and was following my desire to be a good steward of our planet, feed wholesome food to my children and baking bread was part of my twice weekly routine. The pushing, pulling, punching of the dough was a highly therapeutic and rewarding activity.  And the smell of baking bread titillated my senses as I awaited the hollow thump that verified it was ready. Slathering fresh butter on a slice of homemade bread fresh out of the oven is second to no culinary experience.

So my bread baking adventure is on. I will try to describe my adventures as they progress and document the finished product with my camera even if the end result is disastrous. As Julia would say….Bon Appetit!!!