Local love in every loaf.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread

2 c whole wheat flour
2/3 c white flour
1 t salt
1 T honey (slightly fermented)
1 T olive oil
3/4 warmish water + 1 1/4 t dry active yeast
(if other yeast, use 1 t)
1/3 c milk

Bring all ingredients out to picnic tables, in sight of a wood-fired clay oven. Combine all dry ingredients. Combine with all wet ingredients. Stir. Knead. Listen to the master bread baker as they dispense advice like candy. Avoid accidentally kneading in the bees who are very interested in the honey. After 10-15 minutes, or when the master baker has so decreed, lightly coat dough, formed into a ball, in olive oil. Cover with warm damp cloth in a bowl. Place somewhere warmish. Let rise.

Hang out for an hour while the bread doubles in size. Play with the dog. Talk with the master baker. Marvel at the outdoor oven. Update your Twitter feed. Contemplate the Universe. Think about the fact that you're sitting in the back garden of a house on the East Side of Buffalo which was bought for $4,000, and is being slowly renovated, but meanwhile hosts a bakery, a housing co-op (still neonatal), and is the birthplace of apparently quite a lot of community awesomeness. Daydream about buying one of the $1 houses of Buffalo, and doing some renovation. Wonder about the sanity of such a notion when you really don't like manual labor, outside of gardening, even if you know how to do it in theory. Spend more time marveling at oven. Two kids with a dream and a library card. They got a book that taught them how, built a small prototype, and then the massive hulking thing that sits at the bottom of the yard. And now they bake bread. They sell bread and bread shares (as far as I can tell, guaranteed bread sales). They teach others how to bake bread.

Today we made whole wheat & cinnamon raisin, except that I hate raisins in baked goods, so I made the former and not the latter. The original recipe for the whole wheat was cut in 1/3, as the original makes 3 loaves and my effort will come out with just the one.

Talk and hang out. Eat yesterday's baked whole wheat. Eat fresh tomatoes, cucumbers & basil. Wonder about our current political climate. Drink tea. Muse about the beauty of bread; how simple, how fundamental. Attempt to contain laughter when the four year old consistently can't connect the act of sticking her bum in the dog's face and his tendency to attempt to hump her leg. Think more about living in a $4,000 house, living closer to the land, but how would I survive winter in a largely uninsulated or badly insulated house? But then, you know, if I'm actually making money, I could afford to improve the house. I wonder what the taxes would be on a house that you buy for $1. Hmm...

And after this, which has taken quite a while as it is a little cold, we could punch our bread down, but we won't today. Today we'll shape it into a log for a loaf of bread, or a sphere for a boule. I choose the log-loaf. So shape it, then let it sit for 30-45 minutes. Then we put it in the oven for 30-45 minutes. I've been told it's a cooler oven than the one used for Challah.

In the oven, the fire has been built, stoked, and allowed to burn down to ash, cinder & char - but it burns still. The master baker who knows the oven well enough to be on a first name basis, she pushes all of the ash and cinder to the back, scrapes it all again, and then with a wet rag rigged on the end of a stick, she wets the floor of the oven. The oven is so hot that the water evaporates instantly, but she covers the entire surface twice, and thoroughly at that.

There is a long paddle, the name of which I forget, but we spread a little Semolina flour on one side, because Semolina tastes better than cornmeal, and then turn out our loaves & boules onto it, one by one, place-shoving them into the oven. I over shot and my place-shoved mine right into the ash and then I had to get it out again. Halfway through the bake, the master turns all the loaves.

While still on the paddle before they go in, we score our loves. I put a double X on it, kisses to the Universe, with love, from Sarey. And then when my loaf came out, it was gorgeous. And a little ashy on one end. But definitely gorgeous. We let them cool for ten or so minutes before taking them away.

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