Yeasty Breads – an update

I just looked at the clock to find that it was 11:30am. I woke up around 8:30am, and I have already put a loaf of Raisin & Pecan Wheat Bread in the oven, put together some tzatziki sauce, started a batch of naan dough, and started the process for a cinnamon bun yeast dough. Usually it’s around 4pm when I hit my third baking item, if I even get that far. Granted, the first loaf has been prepping for 18hrs already, so really I just had to let it rise again and put it in the oven, but still.

It seems I am in a yeasty bread mood.

If I were in the mood to blame something, I would blame How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal. This was my third rereading of the book. The story itself is ok – people with issues and stories trying to find a way to make their lives work. It’s not the story that keeps me coming back: it’s the description of the scenes where the main character is working in her own bakery. (Now that I say it that way, it seems a lot like baker-smut.) That, and the fact that intermittently at the end of chapters there are recipes.

Bread has always held a place in my life. I could never, ever not eat bread. But until recently I have focused more on quick breads and pastries. In some respects they’re easier – they aren’t as temperamental, and they are a bit more forgiving time-wise. Of course, maybe I just think that because I haven’t played around with yeast as much, and haven’t taken the time to understand the wants and needs of that organism.

The second time I read the book, I attempted to make a sourdough starter, the first recipe in the book. Unfortunately, between my own fear of the substance – you have to taste it periodically to ensure that you’re working toward a good flavor, and that just sounded gross – and my own lack of discipline as far as time management and dedication to refreshing the starter weekly, it didn’t really work out. Mikal can attest to the large jar of progressively questionable-looking goo that sat in the fridge for the better part of a year. I was quite literally afraid of what it had become. It went into the trash not too long before I restarted the book.

So I read the book a third time, and again had the urge to attempt sourdough starter and familiarize myself more with yeast breads. This time, though, I was smart about it. In speaking with a coworker that also likes to bake, she helped me come to the conclusion that I really should have a notebook in which to record my recipes and variations, as well as the issues and results and any other notes I may have.

I went and bought myself a Moleskine notebook specifically for recipes. It was more for cooking than baking, so I had to change many of the headings and things. It’s all good though – I have already started with my Raisin & Pecan Wheat Bread, a variation of one of the recipes in the O’Neal book, as well as my observations about the sourdough starter.

It’s quite exciting. I’m on my second refreshing of the starter, and it has a wonderfully sour flavor now. This incarnation of the Raisin & Pecan bread has some of the starter in it, and you can taste the sour as an interesting aftertaste.

That is the news with me, and part of the explanation as to why I missed last week’s post – I’m starting to really develop my own recipes and experiment to find what I’m trying to do. Technically, I’ve been at my kitchen adventures for a couple of years now, but this feels like a different facet of it. We’ll see how it goes.

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