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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Our Daily Bread

Coming down to the basics, the body needs hydration, vegetables and some protein. A lot of our protein actually comes from bread and grains specifically when the principal breads are flat breads made from simple grains. Breads primarily without yeast. Something about this essentialist lifestyle is appealing to me--a cottage by the beach with a some room for a garden. A hearth to bake breads, from the diminutive roll to the might boule and everything in between. A rod and reel to procure fish to salt as they do with salt cod in Spain.

I enjoy bread with mixed pleasure. On the one hand, its nourishing, and on the other it fits into the simple pleasure category. Like salt cod or smoked mullet or a host of other personalized joys, the sensation of pleasure toward bread runs deeper than simple nourishment, although the addition of flax seed, spelt, and millet certainly pack a punch. When you pull a boule from the oven and thump its belly to check for hollowness, much a like jimbe yet more fragile. There is something primitively pleasing about whacking the heel slice off and enjoying a bite instead of untying a bag for instant gratification.

Like meals slaved over yet relishing every minute of preparation, bread baking is much more akin to Thanksgiving in the sense that time leading up to the event is as much a part as the event itself. I have enjoyed the preparation and consumption of bread from our oven more in the last few weeks as Dawn and I have let our imaginations wander to consider a couple of ideas that hopefully you can enjoy as much as we did.

Lately I have become fascinated with cardamon. Due to the fact that Dawn randomly picked up an entire bag of lemons, a combination of the two seemed imminent. Milk or buttermilk adds a tremendous richness to bread that water fails to impart, so I used buttermilk with the combination of earlier mentioned ingredients to fashion a lemon cardamon boule.

Lemon Cardamon Boule

2 Pkg Active Dry Yeast
3/4 Cup Warm Buttermilk
2 cups Spelt Flour
2 Cups Bread Flour
2 Tbsp Cardamon
Zest from one medium lemon
1-1/2 Tbsp Salt
1/2 Cup Buttermlik
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Egg White with 1 Tbsp Water
Poppy Seeds

1.Dissolve yeast in warm buttermilk and let proof. Measure flours into mixing bowl. Add cardamon and salt, and mix well.
2. Add lemon zest to flours. Add yeast mixture and begin blending by hand. Add oil and graduatlly add buttermilk to achieve correct consistency; firm enough to pull away from sides of the bowl.
3.Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth (8-10 minutes by hand).
4. Coat inside of a blowl with butter. Add dough ball and turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled (about an hour).
5. Punch down, knead for three minutes; allow to rise a second time.
6. Punch dough once more. Remove from bowl and using both hands, draw dough together in a "circular package," pinching ends together. Turn dough over and set it pinched side down on a baking sheet or pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal (to prevent sticking). Let rise until doubled in bulk.
7. Slash top in three places for decoration/for steam. Brush with egg wash made with beaten egg white and water. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
8. Broil at 375 for 20 minutes. Switch oven to bake for 25 minutes (or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom).
9. Cool on rack.

From some of the reading I have done lately, I ran across a book titled Boulaugerie which happened to include some French classics like pan de raisin, baguettes, croissants, and other jewels concocted in or around the city of lights. The recipe that I began with for the baguettes was appealing first because it uses bakers yeast which believe me is easier to find in Europe, or at least so it seems. Not too long into the preparation, the mission became a bust, maybe due to the density of the spelt flour I used as a partial substitute. I enjoy a slightly denser loaf though, so maybe it was just meant to be an improvised mission. Ultimately, the loaf became known as a pretzel boule, due to the nuttiness of the spelt and the salty crunch of the sel de gris baked on top.

Pretzel Boule

2 tbsp Brewers Yeast
1 Tsp Sugar
1/4 Cup Lukewarm Water
2-3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Spelt
3/4 Cup Water
3 Tbsp Sel de Gris
1 Egg White Beaten + 1 tbsp Water

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 Cup Lukewarm Water with sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes and proof.
2. In large bowl, combine flours with remaining water. Add proofed flour.
3.Knead until dough is soft (about 10 minutes). Cover bowl and let dough rise until doubled, about an hour, in a warm place.
4.Once doubled, place on floured surface and knead again briefly. Shape into boule and place on baking sheet or stone. Cover and let rise until slightly risen, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500.
5. Using knife, make 3  slashes in the boule. . Place loaf in oven. Reduce temperature to 450 and bake 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 400 and bake until crust is golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 20 minutes more.
6. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet.


Fresh Local and Best said...

The lemon cardamon boule looks and fantastic, as does the pretzel boule. I'm imagining how wonderful it must have smelled while these guys were baking!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

Love the way that lemon cardamom boule looks. Been dreaming about a boule I saw in a breadshop last week that I resisted buying because it was ridiculously and criminally overpriced! This looks way too good not to try out. Thanks for the inspiration :) P/s would you know how many teaspoons yeast 2 pkgs would translate into? My yeast packages state 11 g each and is approximately 5 level tsps each.

Cocina Savant said...

@ Fresh Local Best; Thanks!
@ Denise; thanks, it is ridiculous sometimes how much bread can be, the packages of yeast we used contained 2-1/4 tbsp or 6 and 3/4 tsp active dry yeast.

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous bread and I would love the lemony cardamom flavor, fabulous!

ValleyWriter said...

Both of these look fantastic! I think I *have* to try the pretzel bread this weekend - my husband loves soft pretzels!

El said...

There's nothing like homemade bread. They look wonderful!

Cajun Chef Ryan said...

Fresh bread is so amazing, and fills up the wonderful aroma that makes a house a home. Your image of the crusty loaf with the coarse salt on the crust is amazing.


Rambling Tart said...

Beautiful loaves! Sigh, photos of pretty bread make me so happy. :-)

Chef Aimee said...

The lemon cardamom loaf sounds absolutely delicious! Those are two of my favorite flavors!

Divina Pe said...

I just love home-baked bread and the aroma that imparts the kitchen and the satisfaction on that first bite. Your bread looks great.

My Little Space said...

My goodness, these breads look awesome! I'm saving it up for later use. Thanks for sharing.

Thas said...

I've been wanting to bake homemade bread for so long, these breads looks so perfect. I will be trying one of these soon. Thanks for sharing!

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