Tips Archive

Thursday, October 5, 2006

pumpernickel bread

pumpernickel bread

At Sunday’s final bread class, I was a little slow-moving after Saturday night’s festivities and the cause of last week’s cupcake extravaganza. We focused on whole-grain breads: semolina, Swiss rye, seeded rye and pumpernickel, and though I was a little, um, dehydrated, I think I did all right, surprising myself by getting all four doughs together before noon. It was at this point that I realized I might just have achieved my goal in this class — which was not, by the way, to effectively knead bread with a margarita headache — but to get comfortable enough with the process that I could dive into recipes confidently and know instinctively what to do if things get off-course (or underslept). I’m almost there, and not a moment too soon, because the instructor dug up a recipe for Russian Black Bread for me with about 20 ingredients and it’s calling to me. No rest for the weary, or at least certifiably insane, I suppose.

swiss rye

As there are few things better on earth than a grilled cheese sandwich on seedless rye with a slice of tomato and arugula, I was pretty excited for my take-home bounty and while it did not disappoint, I have to confess that the next day, just the appearance of all those loaves of bread making it impossible to tightly shut our freezer made me feel a bloated, too. Is it possible to have a bread hangover? Fifteen hours of bread baking over three weeks is quite a bit, and while I wouldn’t trade the class or what I’ve learned for anything, those leafy greens and roasted squash are looking mightily more appealing these days. When this phase passes, as I am certain it will, I’m certain we have enough stashed away to get us through the long winter and then some.

unbaked semolina loaf

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Monday, September 18, 2006

white batter + chocolate orange breads

slicing the chocolate orange

Sometime over the last couple years — arguably, just as this carbohydrate castoff moment has crossed the American table, or more likely in subversive rebellion of it — I’ve become obsessed with baking bread. There’s something so elemental, primitive about setting bacteria loose in milled grains to feast! ferment! to their unicellular heart’s content, guiding it along with humidity and simple sugars and just when things can’t get any better for the little guys — Wohoo! It’s warm in here! — well, we off them so they’ll taste better for us. Hey, I said primitive, right?

shaping for second rise

So, it is with unbridled excitement that I began at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning the first of three five-hour bread baking classes at the ICE, the perfect 30th birthday present from Alex after months of shameless hints from me. Exactly as I had hoped, I learned a whole lot of new things, some of which I will happily sum up for you in a hopefully less-than-five-hour format.

showing us how to shape a loaf

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