There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
by Isabel Allende

Starting in November of 2009 Michelle at the Big Black Dog formed a group to bake its way through Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. I loved Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, so I signed up with the group. Michelle first had us do a couple of warm-up assignments, which were my first attempt at blogging. The first "Official" post was on January 15, 2010, and it was followed by 41 more, on the 1st and 15th of each month. When I signed on I said I would bake the whole book, and like Horton (the elephant) I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I finished baking the book on October 1, 2011. Having completed that challenge, now I am just going to do some stuff, and post about it. As part of that stuff Michelle is posing a new, and different, challenge for us each month.

I am still baking bread, mostly the Five Minutes a Day kind, and if you would like to try the Five Minutes a Day bread method there are some links, with recipes, in the right hand column to get you started. Please give it a try.

But first, a word from my sponsor . . .
Depending on to whom you listen, however, our standard of living, may, or may not, be threatened by climate change--global warming. Though scary, it is hard to sift through all the shouting and conflicting information to figure out who is right on this issue.
One person, Greg Craven, has suggested changing the question from "which side is right" to "what is the wisest thing to do given the uncertainties and the risks involved?" To me, this seems like a very productive way to refocus the conversation. So, if you are confused about, concerned by, or interested in the issue of global warming please take a few minutes to watch his VIDEO. If you find it interesting or helpful, please pass it on to others.

This day be bread and peace my lot.
Alexander Pope

How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?

Julia Child

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
Yiddish proverb
(And some are only half baked.)

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw, via Sharon

Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.
George Herbert

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Black Bread

In my last post I introduced my homey John, who tries to keep me in line.  He has given up trying to keep his bride in line.  A long time ago.  In addition to offering editorial input, he also offers other tidbits.  Recently he sent me a link to a recipe for Black Bread from 101 Cookbooks.  Since John had made all that effort I thought I would give it a try.  I became a little concerned, however, because when I asked him if he wanted to be a taster, he declined, claiming that he was going to be out of town, out of state, even, for the foreseeable future and would not be available to taste the bread.   HMMMMM.

Well, the recipe seemed safe enough, so off I went.  The flavorings are similar to the AB/HB in 5 pumpernickels, with espresso (I used instant), cocoa (I used Dutch), molasses, and rye flour.  It does not use the caramel color, so just common ingredients.  But it does call for 2 cups of shredded carrots!

I mixed up the dough in my Kitchen-aid, and kneaded it there as well.  I had to add a fair amount of extra flour to get the "soft, tacky, cohesive dough" the recipe called for, but then my measurements could have been off a bit.  I then put it to rise, and boy did it!

The recipe then suggested forming it into a ball and placing it on a cookie sheet for the second rise, but the dough was soft, so I put in in a 10" oven-proof skillet lined with parchment paper.  The sides of the skillet helped contain the dough.  Then I covered the whole thing with a bowl. 

Here it is after the second (substantial) rise. 

I slashed the top, sprinkled with caraway seeds, and into the oven it went, pan and all.
The recipe notes that it makes "one extra-large loaf."  And it was not lying. 
But it was very good, soft, tender and flecked with carrots. 

Since the dough was fairly well hydrated, I wonder it it could be adapted to the 5 Minutes a Day method.  It would easily make 2 loaves.  Maybe I will play with that, because we really liked this bread. 

For another adaptation, I was watching French Food at Home on the Cooking Channel and she made an Onion Tart.   She called for a pre-baked pastry round, but I thought "why not some bread dough?"  So I rolled some of my HB in 5 dough (a Broa I had in the fridge) into a thin rustic shape, pre-baked it, then topped it with some light sour cream, thinly sliced onions, and turkey bacon, and baked it until lightly browned. 
Pretty darned good.

And now for a gardening tip.  If you force paperwhite narcissi you know that they can get leggy.  To accomodate that I start them at the bottom of a deep vase.
But according to Master Gardener Sam, once you get about an inch of growth, replace the water with a mixture of water and alcohol--5 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol. (You could use booze, but why would you?)  This mixture affects the growth, and the narcissi stay short!  I am trying it now, and will let you know.

So that is it for this time, see you next time for our monthly challenge.