Tuesday, April 03, 2007

rising obsession

I’ve got a new obsession: baking bread. I usually bake bread around the holidays. Before the bread maker that was a major commitment. Now with the bread maker, I set it to the “dough” setting and let it do all the hard work for me – mix, knead, rise, punch down, rise, knead. But I still prefer to do the shaping, final rise and baking myself. This is going to sound crazy, but it just doesn’t taste as good to me if it actually bakes in the bread maker. I know it’s all in my head because the ingredients are all the same – maybe I’ll brush the top with an egg wash and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds – but for the most part it’s the same dough, just a different oven. So, this renewed interest in bread baking rose from my desire to make whole wheat sourdough bread. I know you can buy it at Trader Joe’s, but I swear every time I go in that store I come out with bags of macadamia nuts/ almonds/ pistachios/ cashews, all kinds of wonderful frozen dinners (enchiladas, phyllo wrapped shrimp, orange chicken), too much wine and fancy, expensive juice. Not to mention flowers. Cut flowers, cute little plants in cute little pots, orchids and potted herbs. All stuff I don’t need, all stuff that can break my already fragile budget. So, I generally try to avoid Trader Joe’s if at all possible. So…I’ll make my own wheat sourdough thank you very much. And, as you may or may not know, sourdough is no Wonder Bread. There’s the issue of the sourdough starter to be dealt with. A testy concoction that requires days of attention. And, since mine still isn’t quite as sour as I’d like it to be, it continues to demand my attention – mixing and sitting in a warm spot and feeding it milk. (hey, just like a baby!) So, as my sourdough starter continues to develop and mature, the loaves of bread will keep popping out of the oven for us to enjoy. Yum! (I wonder how I could get those guys up at Boudin to sneak me a tablespoon of their starter.)

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