Thinking bready thoughts

 

SAM_5361

There aren’t too many weeks that go by without my baking bread at least once, and usually more often. I am a strong believer in bread baking fitting comfortably into your day. Laurie Colwin in her beautiful book Home Cooking writes a fabulous essay on baking bread that pretty much sums up my attitude about bread baking. ( Parenthetically, my copy of the book was a stupendous house gift from my friend Anne.)

At this point challah, and pita and bagels and peasant breads and pizza are all comfortable parts of my bread baking repertoire. I adore sour dough bread. But each time I read a recipe for how to set up a sour dough starter my head starts to ache.

According to most of the books I have read setting up sour dough sounds like it is almost as much work as taking care of an infant.

Awhile back I took a book out of the library that promised a method for making home baked bread with a time expenditure of only twenty minutes per day. The method in the book described setting up a loose bread dough and setting it in the fridge under a loose cover and then taking out a baseball sized lump of dough and using that to form the bread.

 

I tried that method and perhaps I misunderstood the directions, but a bread made out of a baseball of dough was just not enough for my bread eating family.

 

Last week  I sort of stumbled back into trying that method. I made the bowl of loose dough. When I pulled out the lump of dough to use. I kneaded in a generous amount of flour  and then allowed the bread to rise. I added enough flour  to the baseball sized lump to get a healthy sized loaf.  I put the loose  dough that was left back into the fridge.  After a couple of days the dough mixture in the fridge began to sour. So last week we ate a batch of sour dough bagels.

 

I made one attempt to add a bit more flour and water to the bowl. it seemed to work.

 

The bread you see rising at the top of the page was a rolled loaf filled with caraway and raisins. It was slightly sour.  I have made pita and round peasant loaves all from the same mix. It’s a nice, lazy way to make bread.

 

I’m still figuring this method out but once I get a clearer sense of what I am doing it will write out something that resembles something closer to a recipe, or at least something that someone who isn’t living inside my head can follow.

Comments

  1. I was such a huge fan of Laurie Colwin back in the day when she wrote for Gourmet Magazine. So sad that we lost such a wonderful, young writer . I've read a few of her books and I've always meant to get a copy of Home Cooking. Thanks for the reminder and looking forward to your recipe.

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  2. I've never read anything else by Laurie Colwin, but Home Cooking is my favorite cookbook. I've always said it is well worth reading even if you never cook a single thing from it. That said, the gingerbread cake in that book is one of my all time favorite deserts. I've eaten it plain, with a dusting of powdered sugar, with a dollop of applesauce on top, with whipped cream, and with the chocolate frosting the author recommends. It is good every way I try it.

    I look forward to reading what your bready thoughts turn into.

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  3. Still really enjoying your blog. Just bought Home Cooking.

    Your Irish, small-town fan . . .

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  4. Reading Laurie Colwin feels like a having a really smart opinionated friend hang out with you. I don't always agree with her but I always love the time i spend having her in my head.

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