February 13, 2006

It was not the Baking ExpoFestO'Rama I had envisioned on Friday morning, once the trip to Boston was officially postponed.  I'd had visions of cherry pie, buttermilk pie, cherry and buttermilk pie, new sandwich bread to replace the loaf I'd taken out of the freezer that morning, maybe a focaccia -- hey, maybe I'll bake two, one with a straight dough (i.e. with the yeast added directly to the dough), one with a sponge, with a few thousand words on the difference in the crumb and flavor!  I usually go a bit berserk like this on, say, Tuesdays, when I start fantasizing about the weekend ahead.  Normally reason returns to me by Friday afternoon, when I realize that if I do all this baking, I will have no time for anything else, but because I had spent this week planning what we would be doing in Boston, I hadn't got all the silliness out of my system.  In the end, I did scale back, but not out of a desire to restore normality; what should have been a weekend of happy kitchen puttering and boy snuggling  was instead spent munching on Excedrin like Pez, applying compresses to my head and muttering "oh, the hell with it.  I'll just knit my sock."  Nevertheless, even with all the muttering and the compressing and the knitting, I still managed to turn out these:

Little_rye_breadlets_1

If you're thinking that these particular breads are a bit on the small side, you're right.  Even at their full rise, they are not big loaves.  These little beauties would have been bigger had I not slipped up and given the rising dough a double turn instead of a single, resulting in a tightened crumb.  I had also used a light hand with the yeast, as the new block I just bought was a particularly jackrabbit strain, prone to aggressive fermentation.  I should not have been so shy about using it.  By the time I pulled the bread out of the oven on Saturday night, I was terribly nervous.  I had never made this bread before.  What if I had taken a simple, beautiful recipe and screwed it up to the point of inedibility?

I am a silly people.  Save for overproofing to the point of collapse, or for underbaking to the point of raw-centeredness, it is extremely difficult to do anything to bread that screws it up to point of inedibility.  I ate the heel of one loaf for breakfast on Sunday morning.  Lloyd and I ate the rest of that first loaf, and a portion of the second loaf, as part of our ploughman's lunch, along with Asiago cheese, bread and butter pickles and sour dills from this nifty company, Dijon mustard, sweet German mustard and banana chutney.  We've just finished a big dinner tonight, chicken and short grain rice, pickled cabbage and carrot salad from the Italian deli, fresh gingerbread for dessert, and it is still all I can do to not head into the kitchen and polish off the rest of the bread, with nothing but a little butter and salt for company.

Yes, I'll stop being coy now:  The bread is Cucumber Pickle Juice Rye Loaf, made from rye flour, toasted in the oven until brown and gorgeous; all-purpose flour, salt, fresh dill, yeast and the leftover brine from a jar of pickles.  It comes from The Handmade Loaf: Contemporary European Recipes for the Home Baker by the brilliant Dan Lepard, a book that I picked up last weekend and have not been able to put down ever since.  It deserves a longer, better post than this one, but until I write that longer, better post, I will say that I'm already wishing for another snowstorm, the kind from which it takes two or three days to dig out.  I haven't lost my mind, no; I just crave enough time to try the cucumber pickle juice rye bread again, and then take a bash at the sweet brandy buns, the apple and oat bread, the Golspie loaf (a whole wheat, oat and barley bread), the cherry, fennel and rye bread, the saffron loaf, the currant and cassis bread, the salt and sour berry crispbread, the prune and rye babas with Armagnac syrup, the onion-bay bread, the white potato stotties...and this is just the beginning.

Rye_toasted_and_un

Posted by Bakerina at 11:21 PM in valentines • (1) Comments • (0) Trackbacks
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