Flour Milling

Posted in Musings on July 20, 2008 by cbucholz

I recently finished Six Thousand Years of Bread: Its Holy and Unholy History by H. E. Jacob. It a comprehensive collection of the history of bread, beginning with the discovery of yeast and plowing over 6,000 years ago up until the Second World War. Jacob keeps the history lively and entertaining, clearly forwarding his own ideas on every topic and imbuing the characters with very human and tangible qualities. I would highly recommend this book to any baker. While hefty in its length, it is quite readable. Read it with and open mind and take some of Jacob’s long-winded sagas with a grain of salt.

While I do not want to review the book here, I do want to discuss one topic that I found particularly interesting: the history and process of milling. As a baker, I believe that I should be well informed about the origin of my ingredients, how they were grown or made and what defines their quality. Understanding milling is essential, in this respect, to ultimately understanding flour.

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Rice Bread

Posted in Recipes on July 13, 2008 by cbucholz

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.)

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Rosemary Olive Oil Sourdough

Posted in Recipes on July 10, 2008 by cbucholz

I have always been an avid gardener and was thrilled that this summer I would be in one place long enough to take care of one. Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Teller County Colorado, my home this summer is perched on a windy ridge at 9,000 feet. I thought the greatest obstacles I would have to overcome were high winds and lack of moisture in the air. These, however, I believed I could combat readily by bringing inside my plants during particularly vicious windstorms and watering daily. So, I naively went about planting a container garden on my back deck consisting of two tomatoes, a bell pepper, some sweet potatoes, salad greens, and various fresh herbs. And then I waited for my bountiful harvest.

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Backpacking with Bread

Posted in Musings, Recipes on July 4, 2008 by cbucholz

Backpacking and camping trips require creativity to create meals that are both delicious and satisfying, but also quick and convenient. Often, however, the quality of bread or baked goods on these trips is compromised for durability and ease of packing. This usually means that poor quality tortillas and crackers are standard fare when out in the backcountry. Last week I was backpacking and climbing in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range of southeastern Colorado. When planning for the trip I made it an imperative to bring good quality bread along with me that was both nourishing and would stay fresh for the entire week that I was out. I also wanted to bake something that was appropriately ‘summer’-ish.

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Buns for my Burgers

Posted in Recipes on June 23, 2008 by cbucholz

As a vegetarian, I am always looking for that perfect veggie burger. Preferably, it has a crisp crust with a moist center, is loaded with beans and vegetables, is slightly spicy, and should be good enough to eat plain. The other day I made some delicious sweet potato-black bean burgers. While I certainly could have eaten these straight up, I was hankering for a good bun to accompany them. Unfortunately, good buns are few and far between these days. The supermarket yielded no good choices. Most of the options there were plain, white, pasty, and loaded with high fructose corn syrup. But, rather than being discouraged, I was challenged and intrigued to make my own buns for my own burgers.

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A Lesson on Steaming

Posted in Musings, Recipes on June 21, 2008 by cbucholz

I’ve learned that it is very dry at this altitude. My hands are constantly chapped, the cuticles catching on everything I touch and pulling painfully. I guzzle down water, glass after glass. I apply chapstick in copious amounts. But, in addition, I’ve also discovered this with my last loaf of bread. I stuck the loaf in the oven, poured probably a half-cup of water into a pan at the bottom of the oven, and then let the yeast do their magic. I came back after 15 minutes, expecting to see a blossomed loaf, the result of the fervent activity of the yeast before their hot and steamy death, but instead saw a pitifully flat-looking loaf that had already developed a stiff crust. I had thrown this recipe together as a whimsical experiment, so I figured that this recipe was just a failure and this loaf wasn’t going to be an all-star. I went off to do other things for the remainder of the bake time and when I came back I found a loaf with a protruding, lobate anomaly. It looked almost like a stuck-out tongue, the loaf mocking me for some oversight or misstep.

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High Altitude Baking

Posted in Musings, Recipes on June 5, 2008 by cbucholz

After a long hiatus, I return. Finishing up the school year, attending graduations of siblings, and getting ready for my summer job consumed much of my time. But now I am settled down and returning to my usual patterns, but in a very different place. I’ve left the east coast for the high mountains of Colorado and will be here all summer. So this entry is dedicated to my new surroundings and how they will influence my baking. All of my bread this summer will be baked at close to 9,000 feet elevation and in a fairly arid, montane climate. After some reading, here is what I have found.

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