Thinking bready thoughts
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.