My perfect crusty loaf

April 6, 2013 § 24 Comments

sourdough baked in pot

Hello dear people!  We’re just back from Denver.  Did I even mention we were going to Denver?  I don’t think I did.  There were more important things to talk about!  But, in spite of the lack of public acknowledgment, that is, in fact, where we were for the last week.  We were at a distilling conference, which, as you may suspect, is a whole lot cooler than many of the conferences one could find oneself attending.

Craft distillers are a pretty good bunch, as far as I could tell from my observations of the 600 or 700 or so that were at the conference with us.  Quirky, driven, creative, Jacks and Jills of all trades, and quite friendly besides the occasional curmudgeon – there always has to be at least one curmudgeon in any bunch.

I didn’t make a ton of connections.  I’m an absolutely terrible networker!  I clam up and get shy and awkward and can’t think of a thing to say to anybody, so I float off around the edges and watch people talk.  But, there were some smaller, more intimate gatherings where I could actually connect with people and those people I found to be stellar ones!  Also, the sessions were generally useful and fascinating.  We learned about variables in aging spirits, how to work with wholesalers, innovations in packaging, women in distilling, surviving an audit, how to “nose” (that is to say, smell) unwanted compounds in your spirits.  Good stuff.

Now we’re back and the refrigerator is starkly empty.  I need to do a major restock.  And I need to bake some bread.

As much as possible, I’ve been trying to bake all of our bread at home.  Which sounds like some sort of half super-hero, half Ma on the prairie type of domestic prowess.  But, I’ve found that there are so many recipes for low maintenance loaves out there, that baking one a week isn’t all that great of a commitment.  And the payoff is huge.  (Mostly.  Sometimes my loaves totally flop.  Those are sad days.)  Plus, it means we deeply savor every bite of bread.  (I usually only have one slice a day so the bread lasts through the week.  Joel always accuses me of bread rationing.)

sourdough dough

I adore good bread.  I can completely understand how civilizations could be built on bread and why it is a metaphor for life, for spirit, for giving, for abundance.  So, it makes me terribly sad to know that more and more people can’t eat bread, and that bread in the way it’s commercially produced these days is not very good for us at all.  It’s a tragedy really.  What are we if bread no longer makes sense in the context of “the bread of life” or “our daily bread?”

I’m no expert, but from what I’ve read, I suspect the reasons for this change in bread are complex and many.  Part of it, I am quite convinced, comes from the changes in the grain supply with the industrialization of agriculture.  The wheat available today is not the wheat people ate for hundreds of years.  The wheat available to us now has been bred to be durable, shippable, highly storable, easy to harvest, and high-yield, but not to be nutritious or flavorful.  The potential goodness of the grain has been bred right out of it, leaving instead a highly gluten-filled, hard to digest, inflammatory commodity. « Read the rest of this entry »

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