February 3, 2010

Recent Ventures

I cannot leave well enough alone.  Even though I have too many unfinished projects to count laying around my house, I continue to take on new things.

Many, many moons ago (aka pre-job, pre-child, when I was still a student moons ago) we went a couple of years without buying any store bought bread.  Every 10 days or so I'd make a double batch of whole wheat bread that resembled dark, dense bricks of carbohydrate laden goodness.  It was a recipe from a friend that was heavy on the whole wheat flour and didn't rise well and become airy.  Oh, it was tasty though.  As life got busier it fell to the wayside and became a distant memory.  The smell of fresh baked bread -- which is one of my favorite smells and reminds me of being a small child on the farm -- no longer wafted from the kitchen on a regular basis.

Recently I decided to get back into baking bread again.  This time I wanted to get more creative; I wanted to journey into recipes for artisan breads, rolls, etc.  More importantly I wanted to find a whole wheat bread recipe that I liked.  One that wasn't so dense, but was more airy, moist and had a finer crumb.  

The challenge with baking is our altitude is just shy of 4800ft above sea level.  Baking is a completely different experience than what I was used to growing up.  Yeast behaves differently, the boiling point of water is different.  Recipes need to be tweaked, oven temperatures fiddled with, proofing times adjusted.  Before I never paid any attention and just got pissed when things didn't turn out the way I'd hoped.  

I became a woman on a mission.  I armed myself with different kinds of flours, new yeast, an oven thermometer and even a cookbook on baking at higher altitudes.  I was set.

A few weeks ago the first project began -- to craft a good loaf of wheat bread.  My goal was to find a recipe that worked, even if that meant making adjustments for numerous batches.  After I found something that worked I'd commit myself to making all of our bread again.  This is a much loftier goal now that a small person in our house has significantly upped our bread intake.  It's been about 6 batches and I'm almost there.  I need to cut the sweetener (honey in this case) back just a little more.  The resulting loaves aren't fabulously high risers but they're tender, flavorful and make damned good toast in the morning.

Monday of this week I had another hair-brained idea.


It's a gooey, bubbly, smelly mess of fermenting flour and water right now.  And I'm fascinated with it.  Let's see how this venture pans out...


Flying Monkeys said...

What flour did you use? The recipe I was using recommended rye flour because it's richer in wild yeasts. Did your book say anything about that?
Good luck!

Jen Gray said...

Fun! You've come over to the dark side!

Lost in Space said...

Sigh, you and Miss Flying Monkeys make me feel very inadequate in the kitchen. (-; I just wish I lived closer to you both!

JWZ1978 said...

Can I hire you to be my gluten-free bread maker and general baker? :)

Kristen said...

What fun. I am still a lazy bread machine user but one of these days I might try to do it the REAL way. (I figure my bread machine still beats store bought, right? ;D) Let us know how it comes out!

Christina said...

Yay and yummy I finally made some homemade breadsticks the other day and then spent the evening munching on them wondering why I think its soo much work it was rather easy.... I actually need to get the sourdough starter going too as I used to do that many many many moons ago and DH no longer eats yeasty bread.