Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Commitment? Obsession? Resolution?

I'm not sure which of the above it is. But my desire to finally figure out the magic & mysteries of bread making has once again taken over. Perhaps it was born from the sad state that my food supply was in for the last week or so. That and realizing that bread is made from about 2 or 3 ingredients, I can do that! That AND the fact that I am a total, unabashed bread junkie.
But, I suck at making bread.

I've been through these times of hope, belief, obsession before. It's always ended in some form of disaster. The least of which is a total disaster in the kitchen, all the way to the disaster of having little bugs in the 7 million pound bag of flour that I obsessively purchased from Costco, (then stored in my garage, in Hawaii = bugs).

Well about a week ago, I figured I would make fococcia. My rosemary plants are going crazy, I could make rosemary focaccia hamburger buns! How hard could it be? So I called my sister to get her recipe, hoping there was no yeast involved. There is. I rummaged through the fridge & behold! I fond a packet. A soggy packet. "Does it need to be dry?" I asked. Uh yeah, it does. So I scrapped the idea. For now.

Then a few days later I did a search for bread recipes that don't require yeast. I discovered that sourdough bread is made from a starter consisting of nothing but a bit of flour & water and a three-day kind of science experiment! Did you know about this? You can check out this site: www.io.com/~sjohn/sour.htm to see the details. So of course, I was inspired and now I have a little jar of flour & water in a quiet corner of my kitchen. I'm supposed to feed it every day (more flour & water) and it grows! Then it goes into the fridge for a few more days and THEN, it's ready for the whole adding flour & letting it rise a couple of times part. Why am I not just buying a $2 loaf from the bakery at Safeway again? Nevermind. We'll see how it goes...

I now have a spark of belief that I, too can make great bread. So yesterday I found myself at Costco with flour and yeast on my shopping list. And I took the plunge, yes committment. I commited to like, a pound of yeast, and a HUGE bag of bread flour. You know, I'm talking about the giant pillow sized quantities meant for bakers. In a bakery. A commercial bakery. Good God, what am I thinking?

Well, at 11:00 last night I decided to start a batch of ciabatta. I know... I got the "your crazy" text, but here's what's really crazy: for two loaves of bread, there is 15 HOURS of mixing, resting, rising, kneading, shaping, rising again & baking. But there's something about it. Something magical, I tell you. There's something nurturing going on here.

As if those two little bread projects aren't enough I figured, why not tackle that focaccia?! So as I type these words I have:
1). A little jar of flour & water doing it's thing on the counter which will eventually be sourdough.
2). A bowl of ciabatta starter, which is about an hour away from it's first round of adding flour, more yeast, salt, mixing, kneading and the next hour and a half of rising.
3). Focaccia rolls rising in the oven.

Nothing like going from zero to the extreme, right? Well, I will keep you posted and if I can avoid disaster in the next few hours, I will certainly do some show & tell. We shall see.......


  1. I agree totally about the commitment of making bread, but it's soooo much better than store bought, and you appreciate it more by the time it is in your mouth!
    Happy Baking!

  2. You seem to be taking the extreme way into breadmaking! But no doubt you will triumph and fall in love with the rhythm and heart like breadmakers through the centuries have done!