Peter Reinharts baker’s blessing: may your crust be crisp and your bread always rise charms me on many levels.
Our family makes a lot of different things in our little kitchen and the one thing that gives me the most pleasure is making bread. Cake, chocolate and candy are temperamental and these varietals feel precise, scientific and calculated in my opinion high maintenance.
Having had a chance to reflect on our party menus for Christmas and New Years 2016, I now know that making bread is where my heart belongs. Make no mistake, bread is hard work. But, for me, making bread is therapeutic, sensual and satisfies my strong, creative streak. Everything about making bread is done by touch and feel, kneading and massaging the dough to a point where there is a palpable change beneath your fingertips and palms. Words like silky, supple, soft, elastic are feminine in nature and define some of the sought after characteristics in the dough. And, the dough itself is a living organism that must be nurtured to its final form bread.
On baking I daresay there isn’t a person alive who can resist the intoxicating perfume of bread baking as it surges and ebbs, permeating every corner of the home. It coaxes people to gather together in the kitchen and converse over chunks and slabs of salted butter. It induces giggles and reduces even the saltiest adult into a child.
Bread also connects me with history. I like history, I just love the notion that while methodologies may have changed and the equipment used to cook bread have evolved…bread baked at home and artisinal bread is water, salt, yeast, flour and I will add time. I will also add that time is the most important ingredient in successful bread baking. The first record of leavened bread is from Egypt 6000 years ago. Flat breads have been around since the Neolithic age and there are some scholars who argue that bread has been around for some 30500 years. Bread is just cool.
So, with all that said I have embarked on a personal mission to bake my way through Peter Reinharts 15th anniversary edition of the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Why his book, well he is fond of rye bread as evidenced by roughly 10 different rye breads within the pages of his book. Our family is extraordinarily fond of rye bread. And, he has a formula for a Poilane style miche…more on that later.
So, 46 recipes, one per week, likely on a Friday. Wish me luck, rather I humbly ask you to please bless my efforts with a baker’s blessing.