Musings on Making Bread and Chili, No. 1

Longtime readers here know that before my surgery last summer, along with my pasta making I was an avid, if not always entirely competent, baker. I mostly made bread from “scratch” but sometimes for convenience used an electric bread maker. I made all sorts of bread in previous years, including soda (“quick”) breads, as well as the occasional scone, tea biscuit, and muffin. I’ve always looked … (more–>)

More loafing about

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”14″ display=”basic_imagebrowser”] I am always trying to create the perfect loaf; that one loaf that captures every element of bread in perfect harmony with the others: taste, crumb, crust and appearance. An impossible quest, I appreciate, given my lowly talents, but great bread is the Holy Grail of cooking and I cannot stop searching. It’s the journey that matters. Every step leads me towards … (more–>)

The arts of politics and baking

In his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, author Robert Prisig wrote about how dealing with the small things of daily life  – like fixing his wayward motorcycle – could teach us about the world at large. A sort of microcosm-becomes-macrocosm perspective, with the vagarities of motorcycle repair to colour the learning. What we learn in one we can apply to the other. * Baking bread, … (more–>)

Resting, Relaxing and Rising

I’ve been reading of late about gluten. How it works, how it develops, why it matters. Gluten is the key to good bread and pasta (the gluten-free fadists notwithstanding, gluten-free anything is an aberration that should be shunned by anyone not diagnosed with celiac disease*). I’m learning more about how gluten links with itself to form the chains necessary to make our food, and how to … (more–>)

May’s Breads and Pasta: 1

So far this month, I’ve made two loaves and one batch of pasta. But the month is barely started, so I have lots of time to make more. The breads so far were nothing spectacular – acceptable, reasonably tasty, but hardly exciting. I’ve made better. The pasta on the other hand, is getting quite good and I look forward to making more. The first loaf I made … (more–>)

Spring Breads

It’s been a while since I wrote about baking bread. During the election campaign last fall, my baking was sidetracked somewhat, but I did manage to get a few loaves in. Last month I got back to baking in earnest. However, along the way, I ignored my levain and it went off. I had to toss it, and have not yet started a new one. The … (more–>)

Another fad bites the dust

The gluten-free fad took another major hit to its already weakened credibility this week when researchers who had first diagnosed “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” found out that, oops, they were wrong. It doesn’t exist. A story in Business Insider tells the tale. In one of the best examples of science working, a researcher who provided key evidence of (non-celiac disease) gluten sensitivity recently published follow-up papers that … (more–>)

May and June Breads

The past month I haven’t done as much baking as usual – just been too busy to do much, plus I was away for a long weekend holiday in Toronto. So June saw a mere two loaves baked. I made a few others in late May, however. The two most recent loaves were a poolish-levain combination done in the oven, and a jalapeño-cheese bread done in … (more–>)

Failure and Redemption

The past month has seen the rise, fall and rise again of my bread making efforts. Mid-month, in April, I was having some success making sourdough breads and was looking at trying some experiments with herbs and other ingredients. Maybe look at other specialty breads, too. But late in the month I tried a cheese bread in the machine – my first cheese bread, using a … (more–>)

April’s early breads

April has begun with three loaves of bread; generally successful efforts, although there’s still some tweaking to do with the recipes. As always. But I’m encouraged to try more – and of course experiment more with recipes and ingredients. The first loaf of the latest batch was an artisan loaf made at the tail end of March. Started with an overnight poolish and the standard artisan … (more–>)

Is this the end of the gluten-free fad?

  Last November, when I first wrote about the gluten-free diet fad, I bemoaned how an everyday protein, a staple in human diets for many millennia, had become demonized by the diet fad crowd. In fact, the gluten-free fad rapidly grew into a multi-million-dollar industry in Canada to accommodate that vulnerable intersection of consumer fears and gullibility.* Back when I was writing my piece, the National … (more–>)

The late March breads

A couple more loaves were made this month and a third will be started later this week. Both were made in the oven, not the machine, at 425F for roughly 35 minutes. Neither rose very high, but both were edible and tasty. Only about a third of the second loaf remains, so I will start a poolish today for baking a new loaf tomorrow. First up: a … (more–>)

Loafing around again

Been at it again this month. Bread making, I mean. You knew that from the image, right? Several efforts so far this month and March isn’t even half-way through its course. Winter remains firmly entrenched here, and spring – or any time without a thick layer of snow – looks far away. So it’s a good time to be making bread. First up: banana bread. I … (more–>)

Raisin and sourdough this week

While I haven’t tried to make a sourdough raisin bread yet, that idea occurred to me while I was making my latest breads, this week. I’m sure it would be a good mix, but I’ll have to build my levain up again, since I used all my countertop levain in yesterday’s bread (about 350g). I still have a culture in the fridge, however, and will take … (more–>)

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