Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why I'll never win a bread-baking ribbon at the county fair

I love the habits that I've accumulated since coming to the farm. I hope they stick.

When you work 8 hours a day producing food, you'd think that the rest of the time you'd want to sit back with a bag of puffy Cheetos and forget about the rest, but what has happened to me is quite the opposite. Spending so much time with my hands in the dirt growing veggies somehow just gives me more momentum to get my hands involved in other food producing jobs. It just feels so good to make yogurt or granola, or my very favorite: bread!

I will never be a professional bread baker. I'll probably never even win a ribbon at the county fair, but I will get to stick my fingers into soft tacky dough and slap a ball of flour and water and yeast on the counter until it's stretchy and pliable and ready to bake.

I am not scientific with baking. See, for instance, the maelstrom of my last loaf:

Evidence of my lack of bread-baking discipline:

1) that bowl is NOT big enough for what I'm attempting, but who cares?
2) I was too lazy to go get the scale so I used a cup measure... leveling off with a knife? please...
3) My last loaf was too "blah" so I decided to add a random amount of sourdough starter (1/2 cup) and subtract some related amount of flour/water (1/4 cup of each)
4) Windowpane test, shwindowpane test. When I was tired of kneading, the bread was left to rise
5) When I got invited to a party mid-bread-baking, I simply stuck the rising bread in the fridge covered in plastic wrap and picked up the process when I got home the next day.

In the end, I even forgot to take a picture of the finished product. I ate it too fast. Like in a day and a half. By myself. So even if you can't see it's golden-brown deliciousness, let that be testament to its goodness (and hopefully not to my lack of standards).

For me, cooking's a joy. It's an experiment, an act of creativity and spontaneity. Once it becomes too prescribed or scientific, it loses part of its charm. When I post recipes here, they're always things that I've tried and measured and recorded, but on most days, my kitchen is a crazy alchemist's lab full of tastes and smells and happy accidents.


  1. Oooooh! Please experiment on me any day of the week!! :)

  2. aw, i love this post. and you. and you will always win many ribbons at the anjali-county-fair. (my county consisting of my apartment.)

  3. "In the end, I even forgot to take a picture of the finished product. I ate it too fast. Like in a day and a half. By myself."

    Holy crap! Hahaha. Must've been good indeed.