Monday, April 4, 2011

Oh my beloved BREAD

Bread…..I am obsessed with it. Within my general obsession with food I have a definite, all encompassing “thing” for bread.  It’s not even all about the eating of the bread (though I do love that part).  It is more about the total experience of bread that I love.  I adore the earthy smell of the yeast as it ‘proofs’ in the warm liquid, the feel as the soft flour and warm yeasty liquid combine to magically form a slightly warm, smooth, elastic mound of potential. Will it become rolls, or a soft crusted tall-sided loaf of sandwich bread, an intricate bread, or a free form crusty artesian loaf? Or maybe it will be stuffed with something savory like herbs, meat or cheese….or something sweet like fruits, cinnamon and sugar, or chocolate? Then there is the soothing act of kneading that dough. Then, as you lay that dough in an oiled bowl and cover it with a dish cloth to rise, the magic happens! When you return later, you are greeted by a mountain of perfect dough! (I still smile that my grown children still delight in the magic of the dough rising as much as I do)  Next comes the baking……Oh yes, the baking. When the heady aroma wafts from the oven and wraps around you like a comforting hug…who can resist that? Of course there is the eating too. What can I say?  Warm, crusty hunks of bread ripped from the loaf and slathered in butter (dare I say Irish butter??)  Hang on a second…..I need a moment……

There are so many memories tied up with bread baking and bread eating like walking by the pot of Tomato sauce and dipping a chunk of bread in for a sneaky taste.  I remember my mother baking bread and giving me the very important job of “punching down” the dough after the first rising. I remember balling up my fist and literally punching the huge mound of dough and, fascinated, watching that mountain collapse in on itself. I felt very important at that moment!
So tell me, what is your favorite type of bread, is there anything unique and different about the type of bread you like, or the way you make your bread? I like free form loaves so I usually score the top, brush with olive oil and sprinkle a heavy dose of sea salt on the loaves before I make them….oh yum!

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