Saturday, June 17, 2006

Making Bread

It seems unbelievable that folks are actually baking! Imagine. A one-hundred-thousand dollar kitchen and what to do? Kitchens are tools, just like dad's old shed with the iron pry bars hung on the wall, the screwdrivers, the hammer, the pliers - you know what I mean. Unlike so many of today's monied folk, though, dad probably actually used the tools. Well, the kitchen is the tool rack and it holds the latest stove, the space-age refrigerator, and of course, the granite countertop. So let's make dad happy. Now let's use it, OK? How about baking bread?

Even though a lot of people like bread baking machines, I don't. If I had a choice of no fresh-baked bread because I did not want to use my oven or use a bread making machine, then of course, I would do so. But making bread essentially by hand is my idea of deep satisfaction; craft at work.

Since bread is as old as time (and I'm getting there too, but not for a while yet), I will have snippets of thoughts, advice, and lore about bread baking. Knowing myself as I do it will also include the eating of bread in its many variations - lots of it.

Below is a the bread I made for a dinner on Augst 8, 2006 we called "Emerging Stars" "Stelle Sorgente" with fabulous wines from the North of Italy coming forth from grade A wine makers who are not yet household names but they will be. People loved the crunchy exterior and cracker-like interior. The aroma and taste of extra virgin olive oil was pronounced - I know this area is the land of lard and butter, but they are not dummies those Ferrarese and Bolognese, they know delicious things are also called good olive oil. I do believe I am the only person in the U.S. who makes this bread. Who would be dumb enough to do this much work on a truly rare bread but me?

Making the bread is not so much hard as it is fastidious, and here is where skill and experience really comes in (think of playing those scales on the piano endlessly but when you need to tickle the ivories - there you have it). The bread is supposed to honor the creatures in the sea, but Ferrara nd Bologna are hardly sea-coast towns. It does not matter. This bread is delicous and I am glad I broke my back to make it. Now if I could only figure out how make hundreds of them, and had a wood oven, and had a way to sell them all....

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