Friday, March 26, 2010

Baking Day

I spent Thursday baking.  I'm trying to use up the last of a 50-pound bag of flour that includes the germ of the wheat before spring temperatures help it go rancid.  So I baked up a storm - of flour, that is.  Baking day is messy.  And long.  And exhausting.  It was lights out for me before 9pm last night.  But at least I have plenty of bread to show for it (Acme Bread's fabulous rosemary herb slabs, courtesy of the Artisan Baking cookbook).  There's nothing - nothing - in the world like freshly baked bread.  As another super-special treat that I posted about over at The Simple Green Frugal Co-op, I also made lardy cakes.

Yes, I know, you can't resist the name any more than I could.  Click the picture to see my post over there, which includes the recipe.

In other news, the arrival of our bee packages has been delayed by a week (or possibly two).  This means I can turn my attention to other things for a few days at least.  Such as doing something about the annual garden.  And maybe planting a few seeds.  We're going to go borrow a rototiller from gardening friends tonight or tomorrow.  I swear this is the last year I till that bed!  Also, I pick up three fig trees next Thursday.  So it's time to get their self-watering containers built.  More on that soon.

Happy weekend!


jaz@octoberfarm said...

i am about to have one of those baking days! i don't freeze many things but i do freeze bread. my daughter recently bought a loaf of bread from the store and threw it out. she said it was awful. then she said, we sure are spoiled. haha....satisfaction!

Anonymous said...

I guess baking is in the air, because I have been baking as least trying to. I am a novice baker and I am still struggling on making a loaf of bread. Any suggestions for a beginner?

Also I am giving away a picnic basket to one commenter who leaves advice, pics, or just a comment on my new blog

vintage girl at heart said...

Beautiful bread...I could live on bread alone.
My new mixer will arrive today and I am so ready to bake..may try your recipes...
I am looking forward to your bee adventure!! My oldest daughter has always wanted to keep bees. I told her to read your blog for more information...
Have a wonderful weekend!

Joel said...

The more I read & experience, the less doctrinaire I get about tillage.

I just read "water wise gardening," which talks about intentionally killing the top few inches of soil to allow dry-cropping vegetables on a wide spacing (9 sq. ft. per corn plant, 16 or 20 per curcubit). This, from a gardener who started out with Jeavons' biointensive methods!

I think his methods are OK now that I've read the book, because he's very conscientious about windbreaks and other erosion control methods; very aware that at least 5% OM should be maintained in the topsoil, and as much as possible brought to the subsoil; and he pays his debts to the soil by planting things like orchard grass and melliot to let the soil recover for a few years.

Joyful said...

The bread looks delicious. Do the rosemary slabs freeze well?

Kate said...

Jaz, it's remarkable, is it not, how quickly our standards shift upwards when homemade bread is available on a regular basis.

Patience, I would advise you to try no-knead bread, and to check out the tutorial for it over at Breadtopia. This is by far the easiest bread for a rank beginner to have huge success with. The only catch is that you need a dutch oven to cook the bread in. But that's a very useful piece of kitchen equipment for other things too, such as stews. If you want to move beyond that excellent loaf, check out the book I have on my side bar, The Bread Baker's Apprentice - absolutely excellent and thorough introduction to baking bread, well worth the read.

VGAH, thanks. I'm looking forward to my bee adventure too. The reprieve on arrival allows me to make a few more tweaks before they show up. Enjoy your new mixer.

Joel, I haven't been doctrinaire, but doing the tilling in the spring is a chore, especially since we have to drive the truck to borrow the tiller. Although we have good organic matter content, it's still clay soil, and I'm going to till it this one last time to try to get the OM incorporated a little deeper. I've also added quite a bit of finely crushed eggshell to help bring the pH down just a bit. Getting that incorporated too will be useful. But next year I don't want to deal with this chore. Too much other stuff to do in spring.

Joyful, yes, the herb slabs freeze beautifully. I double wrap them and put them in the chest freezer.

Anonymous said...

Kate thanks for your response. I will call around and see if any of my sisters has a dutch oven and give it a go.

I appreciate the advice

Robin said...

Yummy, your pictures are making me hungry. :) I hate baking bread but I sure do love the taste of it. Especially right out of the oven with butter.

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

I love bread baking days, and yours look delicious! Have just found your blog, so will be happily trawling through- lots of great stuff.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I haven't had breakfast yet, and now nothing but homemade bread will do! They all look beautiful.

I take it you freeze a lot of it. Does it lose texture appreciably? I love the idea of baking a big batch (it seems like a waste to run the oven for so long for one loaf), but I've been reluctant to freeze.

I'm on tenterhooks about the bees!

Kate said...

Patience, anytime. Glad to help a future baker!

Robin, baking day can be trying, but I find it so worthwhile. Fresh bread really is incomparable.

cityhippyfarmgirl, welcome and thank you. I love to see new handles around here.

Tamar, we do indeed freeze most of our bread. It does of course lose texture, but no more, in my opinion, than bread that sits around for a few days after it's baked. I find the key is to wrap it and seal it really well. Breads seem to shrink a bit when they freeze, so the risk is that the plastic wrap will loosen and expose the breads to freezer burn. Even when I've see this happen though, the damaged part is easily cut away. We toast most of the bread we eat, because we usually eat it with eggs. So if you're going to toast bread anyway, sticking it in the freezer first is pretty much a wash in terms of texture by the time it gets to the plate.