For many, many years, I owned and maintained my own, private zoo.* I fed and watered the creatures in it, occasionally neglected them, moved them from place to place, and when their population threatened to explode, I took out a large quantity and killed them. That’s what, in a nutshell, every baker does with their sourdough starter. A sourdough starter is a SCOBY: a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast; a complex colony of living creatures. It’s also what bakers … click below for more!
Okay, I’ll admit I’m a gadget-loving guy. I am easily seduced by devices that have buttons, programming, switches, dials, and LED displays. And if they’re kitchen devices, I’m even more vulnerable to their siren song. Walk through a store display of Instant Pots, pressure cookers, stand mixers, panini presses, pasta makes, air fryers, or convection ovens, and my knees grow weak. I start to hyperventilate in the appliance aisle of a box store, touching the displayed appliances in an unseemly … click below for more!
I recently hunted through my cookbooks and online for a simple recipe to make a potato-onion bread in my breadmaker machine. While I found quite a few recipes for potato bread, and others for onion bread, I didn’t find any that merged the two. I collected a lot of recipes and got some good ideas for loaves, but nothing was exactly what I wanted to make. So I decided to tweak a recipe from the 300 Best Canadian Bread Machine … click below for more!
Longtime readers here know that baking bread is one of my passions (Susan might call it an obsession, one of my many), but I’m also I’m a reasonably competent cook (not as good as Susan, but I try…); I make my own fresh pasta and my own pizza, among other dishes. Of late, I have been branching out into new areas. None of them are terribly challenging, but they are new things for me to learn. And being retired, keeping … click below for more!
Among my shelves of books on baking bread by hand, is a smaller selection of books about using a bread machine to craft loaves and other items. I admit I’ve been somewhat lax in my creative uses of the bread machine, using it only to bake somewhat plain, whole loaves when I wasn’t up to or able to bake one entirely by hand. The results, I also admit, have been somewhat mixed, in large part because I tend to experiment … click below for more!
Making bread is a small passion of mine, has been for many years as readers here will know*, although the results of my efforts do not always match my optimism. It’s always a bit of a guessing game what will result when I put the dough in the oven. That doesn’t stop me from trying, though, and I thoroughly enjoy the tactile process of making the bread, even if the end result is occasionally more brick-like than loaf-like. There’s something … click below for more!
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 upon my baking (and cooking in general) as a sort of living chemistry experiment. … click below for more!
[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 the mountain. Good bread is easy to make – or at least relatively easy … click below for more!
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, too, offers a meta-window into other arts and crafts, in particular (for me), politics. … click below for more!
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 improve it in my cooking. The Canadian Grains Commission tells us: Gluten is a … click below for more!
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 in the first few days of this month was a simple boule, made with a … click below for more!
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 loaf on the right is the last one I made with my levain. It … click below for more!
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 show the opposite…It seems to be a “nocebo” effect — the self-diagnosed gluten sensitive … click below for more!
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 the machine. The former was a typical bread for me: nicely solid for sandwiches … click below for more!