Monday, February 11, 2008

So cute, I just wanna pinch its doughy little cheeks

Loaf B
From Pablo Neruda's "Ode to Bread":

you rise from flour,
water and fire.
Dense or light,
flattened or round,
you duplicate
the mother's
rounded womb,
and earth's
How simple
you are, bread,
and how profound!

I've baked several different batches of bread by now, and I always love putting my palm on the risen bread dough: each soft, smooth orb always feels so warm and alive (which, I suppose, it is). Bread is something elemental and essential, and it's amazingly, perfectly simple. Neruda's poem expresses this idea so beautifully I had to include a excerpt here.

Flour, salt, yeast, water. I messed up the proportions a lot this time, as I got distracted and lost count while I was measuring out the flour and may (or may not) have added an extra cup. Not yet experienced enough to figure out by touch, I added more water to the dough, a little less than a cup. Which I then determined was too much, so I then added in one more cup of white whole wheat flour. In the end, I believe I had either 6.5 or 7.5 cups of white bread flour, 1 cup of white whole wheat flour, 4 cups of water, 1.5 tablespoons salt, and 1.5 tablespoons yeast. I let this mixture rise for 3.5 hours instead of 2 before putting it in the refrigerator.

I also kneaded the dough quite a lot while forming the loaves for the second rise, as I felt I had failed to adequately mix in the extra white whole wheat flour. I figured I would just let them rise again longer, until those yeasty beasties properly inflated the dough again.

The surprise was that despite all my botches, the bread was delicious: crackly crust; chewy, moist crumb; bright, warm flavor. The difference in taste from past batches must be due to the higher proportion of white flour to white whole wheat, as no other ingredients changed (the water-to-flour ratio would only really affect texture. Or maybe there was a fainter yeast taste because the same amount was distributed over more flour/water?)
In any case, I gave one loaf to my family and sliced up most of the second loaf to store in the freezer. And some, well, I just ate standing over the counter, savoring each warm bite of chewy, crackly bread.

1 comment:

  1. i heart bread.

    it's nice to know that a world famous poet like Neruda could still rhapsodize about the humbler things in life.

    and hey, what happened to the "one loaf of break for my coworkers" ..