Fall is here. I’ve pulled my sweaters off the highest shelf in my closet. I keep a large pot of green tea brewing on the kitchen table throughout most of the day. I purchased a butternut squash from the farmer’s market this past weekend with the thought of a warm kitchen filled with the sweet aroma of it roasting. My boyfriend baked the first pumpkin pie of the season this past weekend. We have about 30 pounds of apples waiting to be turned into apple butter and jarred from our apple picking excursion this weekend. And, most importantly, all my days must end with a warm mug of cinnamon-spiced milk. These are all signs that it is fall and that I am recognizing the rhythms and pleasures of a new season. For this reason, I decided to find an appropriately autumn-ish bread to start off the fall and winter baking season.
Archive for the Recipes Category
With the start of school, my days have become a bit more hectic than the luxuriously lazy ones of this past summer. I have found time to continue to bake bread, but I haven’t been as adventurous, relying on my reliable stand-by recipes to make quickly and with confidence. I have been searching, however, for a good whole wheat sandwich bread recipe that will produce a light crumb and respectable crust to add a good chew to my sandwiches. With that said, I also didn’t want anything too involved. I wanted something simple, relatively quick, and appropriate for a busy week night.
After an extended process of settling back in the Northeast and a long pause in baking bread, I am back, excited to try new recipes and to warm my own kitchen with many fresh loaves. I recently moved into my own apartment after three years of living in college dormitories. Having my own kitchen, making conscious decisions about the source and quality of my food, hosting my friends and loved ones for long, slow meals, and being blessed with my own oven, I am incredibly content with my current situation. As I enter my final school year at the university, I hope to incorporate baking into my weekly routine so that I am never in want of good quality bread.
My summer is coming to an end and with it my time in the mountains. When I come to a new place to live I like to warm the kitchen with an oven full of homemade bread, beginning my time there with good food and memories. But, I believe there is something to saying goodbye to a place with a couple of warm loaves, as well. These loaves bring finality to a memorable summer of friends, family, the outdoors, self-reflection, and new experiences. They are the last products of my treasured ritual of baking bread every week. They hold the last energy from my kneading with tanned arms, the last heat from the glorious August sunrays, the last stray ingredients from my cupboard, and the last bites of summer relaxation. So, as my parting farewell to these mountains I love, I baked these loaves filled with gratitude for the time I was given to spend here. I leave tomorrow to return to the east coast. These loaves and the memories they hold will travel with and sustain me through the journey.
So I enjoyed experimenting with spelt… What about semolina flour? It was another flour that I had not had much experience with. But, since I was in the innovative mood, I decided to tackle this flour as well. The following post contains what I found about it and a sourdough recipe using a mixture of semolina, whole wheat, and white flours.
Experimenting with spelt is a rather new to me. I’ve always associated it as a heart healthy food, full of fiber and nutrients, but not a flour that I would eagerly incorporate into bread. But, as I was reading Ed Wood’s World Sourdoughs From Antiquity, (an intriguing book with a wealth of information on ancient baking techniques and ingredients) I came across this categorical statement in favor of the grain: “Spelt is, however, a remarkable grain that produces terrific sourdough breads. The flour produces a soft, satiny dough with minimal kneading.” The next logical step after reading that was to go out to the store and purchase myself some spelt flour to test out Wood’s assertion. I also did my homework and read up on the grain. Here is what I found out…
Growing up I always remember a pot of rice on the stove. My mom, being half Japanese, made sure of this. Rice was an essential part of her childhood and she bestowed that appreciation for the tender grain in my sisters and me. The first thing I remember how to cook was rice. No fancy rice cookers were involved, simply a pot, some water, and rice. There is a very specific way to cook rice, according to my mom. To master that skill was the first step of initiation into our home kitchen.
First, place the rice in the pot and rinse it a couple of times with fresh batches of water. Next fill up the pot with water so that the rice is covered by an amount of water equal to the length between the tip of your finger and the midpoint between the two most distal knuckles. My little sister had a line, or wrinkle, if you will, there. This, my mom sagely averred, was her “rice line,” a useful physical trait for the task at hand. With the rice covered, place the pot without a lid on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Then, turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and let the rice simmer until all the water is absorbed, but not any longer! (We always knew when my little sister made the rice because the bottom was burnt.)