The smell of onion flakes, sour dough, caraway, black poppy and sesame seed is in the air….the darn stuff smells so good.
I am on a bread making kick (again).
For years my go-to recipe was a rye bread recipe my grandma taught me before she died. She was one of those 5 loaves a week/ measure by feel/ use real lard /old school/ came from Germany when she was 19 kind of bakers. I can still see those loaves of rye bread cooling on her kitchen table.
The art of bread making is beginning to make just a little more sense this week.
There is definitely a learning curve.
I am interested in the big picture.
I want to know theory, not just be a slave to specific recipes.
I approach bread making the same way Vince Lombardi approached coaching football.
Start from the beginning.
Focus on the fundamentals.
“Mix some flour with enough water to form a dough, a touch of salt perhaps; shape it, bake it, the result is bread in it’s simplest, most fundamental form:
with rich true-spirited flavor
that one soon learns to love and crave.
Everything else is extra; yeast, milk, oil, sweetening, eggs. Extra to make bread more palatable, more “civilized”. more chewable and sliceable; yet in a way the extras only detract from the primitive simplicity of grain-tasting unyeasted bread.
The range of breads and other bakery goods is extra-ordinary, from the simplest flour-salt-water to the fanciest butter-eggs-milk-yeasted pastry…Yet basically it’s just you and the dough- ripening, maturing, baking, blossoming together.
I’ve discovered the past several years, an inner impulse awakens inside of me each fall to putter in the kitchen. I’m secure enough in my masculinity to write about it. For me, the kitchen is nothing more than a giant laboratory. Cook books are no different than the blue prints I use to build a house. This impulse tends to goes dormant once the weather warms up. But come September, I start thinking about canning, baking bread, smoking meat, butchering…
Ten years ago when I first started blogging, I became friends with a young woman who was a lawyer by day. Found out she and I shared several interests besides blogging. She told me she had a single aunt she greatly admired who lived in the country at the end of a dirt road down in Missouri. Aunt hunted, chopped wood, knew all of those self sufficient skills previous generations took for granted. My young lawyer friend decided to come and pay us a visit. Before she left, she gifted me her personal copy of The Tassajara Bread Book which I have been rereading this week.
My favorite memory of her visit was watching her shoot a pistol grip 12 gauge shot-gun multiple times in a row. (I wanted to make sure she had a chance to make some lasting memories and connect with her country roots.) 😉
Just went and checked on my latest creation.
Bread is done:
Attempt #6 of sourdough rye bread
Thinking about my lawyer friend made me think about that song by Hank Williams….Country Boy Can Survive again, so I’ll tack that on at the end.
Any bread makers out there in the audience?
Any tips for someone just starting out?
Care to share a favorite recipe?