Pane Cafone (Country Man's Bread)

Pane Cafone (Country Man's Bread)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thoughts on hand made bread - Time takes time.

Hand made bread, "The Staff of Life", is not a lost art or even all that hard to do, it just takes something that most people in this fast paced world we live in are are in short supply of, time.  People ask me how I manage to hold down a full time job, enjoy randonneuring and the training that goes with it, stay active with a fellowship I belong to and still find time to make hand made sourdough bread.  The answer is really very simple.  If something is important to you, you make the time.  Making bread by hand, no machines other than the oven, is one of the most relaxing and rewarding experiences you can have.  If you think about it, just a short 130 years ago, all bread was made this way and it was never given a second thought.  Today people eww and aww when you show up with hand made bread like it's other worldly.  Nonsense!  I've only been doing this a short time and the results I've experienced can be experienced by anyone, it just takes a little time set aside each week to play and experiment in the kitchen.  All the techniques I've learned, the recipes I use are there for the asking, it just takes a little research and daring to expand beyond what you read.  Combining this recipe with that one, combining different techniques with different equipment.  The worst that can happen is that it doesn't turn out the way you thought it would and what do you do with the mistake?  You get to eat it anyway!  Some of my worst mistakes, while not very visually appealing, most were delicious, some weren't.  I try something different with almost every loaf I bake.  I make the time to make the bread because the bread is important to me even if I'm not going to be the one eating it.  I think sometimes it's just the process that drives me to it, other times, because I miss the simpler things in life and what can be simpler than making bread? 

I'll end my rant or rave or what ever you want to call this post by sharing today's efforts in the kitchen.  Tomorrow I'll tell you what went into making these from start to finish.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Time to revive the pot and this blog.

It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since I posted an update.  A few things have happened since my last post.  I finally let the last of my Amish Friendship Bread fade away, I've read a few more books on sourdough baking and I've scaled back to using just one starter recently.  I've also refined some techniques.
The Friendship bread starter was a causality of a refrigerator that died before I could get it replaced.  I guess I could make another one out of an existing starter  but I'm trying to eat a little healthier these days.
The books I've read and really recommend for anyone into sourdough baking are, in no particular order:
  1. The Bread Bakers Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
  2. 52 Loaves by William Alexander
  3. Jake O'Shaughnessy's Sourdough Book by Timothy Firnstahl
  4. Artisan Bread Everyday by Peter Reinhart
The starter I've settled on lately is the Richard Packham 1965 San Francisco I have in my collection.  It has a great flavor and it's hyper-active when fed on a regular basis.  I've been using it so much lately I just keep it on the counter top and feed it every day.
This morning I decided to make a double batch of bread, which in most cases would be two boules, but the bread had other plans.  I didn't plan on doing that when I got up this morning, but I noticed that I had quite a bit of starter working when I went in to make coffee, so I figured I'd use it all in one fell swoop.  It worked out fairly close.  I was 20 grams shy on starter for the recipe  but that left just enough in the jar to replenish my supply of starter, maybe a tablespoons worth.  You only need a tablespoon or so to get the things going again and I'm not too concerned about being a 20 grams shy in the recipe that calls for 520 grams of starter.  This isn't rocket surgery.
To revive the sourdough pot I added 195 grams of bread flour (one and one half cups) and 236 grams of water (one cup) to the remaining sourdough starter left clinging for dear life to the sides and bottom of the sourdough container.  In this case, a food grade one quart plastic container.

I'm not going to go into the bread that I'm making right now in this post, I'm going to save that for a future posting.  My reasoning being that I need to be able to devote more space to the changes I'm made to my recipes and techniques.  Those would make this post overly long and I think it deserves it's own post.  Today was just a chance to re-read some of my old posts to see where I've been, where it's taken me and to revive my interest in sharing my knowledge that I've gleaned over the last year.

Til next time, keep baking.