Category Archives: bread

Plain bread in the dark.

This time around I made a rather plain sourdough, which turned out to be even plainer than I wanted. It was all unbleached wheat flour, no seeds or rye or anything exciting. I made a smaller batch that would produce two medium loaves, and originally hoped to get it done in two or three days instead of what’s been happening lately, where my sourdough sponge waits in the cold garage day after day till I can finally be home for a day to finish it.

But it took four days this time. Here’s how it went:

Thursday evening: Mixed the flour, water and starter in a bowl and left it covered on kitchen counter.

Friday: Moved the bowl to the cold garage.

Saturday evening: added yeast, oil, salt and flour.

Sunday: Nothing

Monday morning: Used a little flour to form two loaves, 1# 12 oz. each. Put them in loaf pans into a slightly warmed oven.

Monday morning: The power went out.

Monday all day: The loaves continued to rise slowly and I was assuming we’d have electricity in time to bake them. Nope, that was not to be the case.

Monday evening: I had got a fire going in the wood stove, and began to realize that I’d need to bake the bread using that heat somehow. At first I thought I might put the pans right on the coals, but Mrs. Bread (haha, you would imagine she’d have good advice!) made me realize that it would be too much direct heat for aluminum pans. So I heated the cast iron Dutch oven on the narrow shelf of the stove for a half hour and sort of poured the two proofed loaves into it, and put the lid back on.

I baked it about an hour, which I think was more than necessary. I wasn’t used to a loaf with all white flour, and in the light from the flashlight it looked greenish. Having no heat from above, it didn’t brown much on the top. While the bread baked I fried eggs for my dinner in a cast iron skillet on the other side of the stove.

As soon as the bread was out of the pot, I had to try a slice. Oh, it has the nicest crumb, so “custardy” as they say, and the skin is crispy! Actually, the bottom was burnt, but easily sliced off. The sourness is perfect. But – as soon as I took a bite, I realized that I had not put in the salt!! Aaargh. So, in addition to being baked in an old-fashioned way, it has a rather old-fashioned flavor. I read once that our colonial foremothers who baked bread every day made a plain loaf that would seem terribly bland to our taste, with little to no oil, sugar, or salt. At least mine is tangy. 🙂

Slow food and other good things.

Sunday was a long and stimulating day for me, with church, the symphony right afterward, and going out to dinner with my goddaughter for her birthday. I was a long time winding down when I finally got home, and stayed up till midnight. That usually bodes ill for the next day, but today has been very satisfying so far. I took a walk, made soup, got my sourdough sponge on to the next stage, wrote a letter, and watched the birds for a while.

In addition to the hummingbird feeder I’ve got two feeders supplied with black oil sunflower seeds. This morning two dozen finches (house and gold), chickadees, sparrows and juncos were flitting back and forth from one to another and to the fountain. When a pair of fat robins landed on the fountain I did a double-take, startled at their size after seeing so many little birds day after day.

On my walk I took a loop through the park where we used to attend the homeschool park days (they continue), and noticed for the first time two species of abutilon, though they are big bushes that have obviously been around for years. All of the plant pictures here are from my walk.

 

This time I didn’t add any regular yeast to the Swedish Sourdough Rye, and I’m baking it all in pans. That’s how I used to do it in yesteryear, and it worked for me back then. I don’t have any patience with my fancy Dutch oven boules right now, and want some tidy slices for the toaster. I divided the sloppy dough into small, medium and large lumps and poured them into greased loaf pans, small, medium and large. At the moment they are rising like the very Slow Food that they are, and I’m counting on them being out of the oven before bedtime — not talking about midnight this time!

Cozy and Baking

I got on a roll today in the kitchen, and made a huge happy mess. I really don’t mind cleaning up a kitchen – I especially like it when someone is cooking and I can just do the dishwashing for them. If I could be two people, I could cook up a storm as one GJ, and the other of me would gladly wash and dry and wipe counters. Doing all the jobs is complicated. I won’t get to bed early tonight!


And I won’t have time to tell you about everything I cooked. Just the bread, for which I give credit to Jody. I read her blog post about sourdough baking, and it stirred again in me the urge to bake some chewy loaf and fill the house with that amazing aroma.

I glanced at the clock and saw that I had just enough time to start and complete a bread project before bedtime, so I jumped up and opened the freezer, scooped some yeast into a bowl and started pulling out of my memory the beginnings of a batch that would make two loaves.

 

Eventually I ended up with a potato-rye sponge, and after it rose a few minutes I added enough wheat flour and other goodies to make a stretchy dough that rose further in front of the wood stove. I was using Giusto’s Pumpernickel Rye flour.

A couple of years ago Soldier son gave me a pizza stone and I remembered just in time to get it out of the cupboard and use it to give the loaves an even chewier crust. They turned out so big, I think three round loaves might have been even nicer.


Because of the kitchen mess I ran out of time to post the photos of everything I made, and I’m not even getting all the cleanup done. But I did take time to slice off the heel of one loaf and try it out. Success!

Tomorrow I’ll have to revisit the world of sourdough, too.

Happy Marketing

 

The only task I was determined to complete today was a shopping trip to a grocery store in the next town. The establishment is combination of neighborhood grocery, natural food store, and international market, and the kind of store I go into with a list of five items (like today) and after exploring and discovering up and down the aisles I leave with two big bags full of good finds. Oh, they also have a gift shop in one corner! I could spend an hour right there, browsing for the gift I wish I’d been diligent to make myself.


As I wheeled my cart in the door I was already fairly elated, having just encountered the budding vine outside — and that was after I had brilliantly noticed the jewelry store next door and got my watch battery replaced. I’d been carrying it around in my purse for a couple of months — surprising how much lighter I felt, getting it back on my wrist instead.

Maybe I was so smart, and elated, partly because of all the caffeine I’d been imbibing on my morning off from the gym. Besides the shopping trip, I did have in the back of my mind the idea of thoroughly vacuuming several rooms in the house. The day’s not over, so who can tell….

My favorite place to shop carries items that I can’t get any longer at Trader Joe’s (Ezekiel 4:9 bread) or other grocery stores (Roastaroma tea) and some standard items at great discount (obscure brands of olive oil). And, I admit, some just plain weird things.

I often get bogged down in the kitchen aisle, looking at cute European utensils including my downfall, knives. This time I paid $2 for the tea strainer to replace our old one that is all mangled and rusty.

I had even been sharp enough to remember to bring in my reusable shopping bags. It does seem to me that the checkers at this store are a little less warm when I don’t. It all comes of living in the kind of place where people take their Wine Country Vacations.

Another thing I like about my market is that they never have tacky holiday displays. Today I didn’t notice the window until I had loaded my bags and was back in my car. So I got out again to mark the advent of spring behind the cigarettes. Happy March!