It feels good to be baking again. I took a one-week hiatus while out of town. There’s something about mixing ingredients, kneading dough, and tending to it like a parent, that it soothing in its ritualism. It puts me in the mind of gardening—turning earth in your hands, loosening roots, watering and pruning. These things are good for the soul, and they return in kind.
Last night I managed to botch up, in small ways, all three breads. The cinnamon raisin somehow split open at the top, quite early in the bake. But it still had good oven spring and presumably will taste just as good. But I’m baffled by this new tendency of my stock cinnamon bread to split or burst. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong but I want to get it fixed so I can have a predictable product every time. The second loaf, whole wheat sandwich, was not perfectly formed so rose in mounds like gently rolling meadows. Again, I’m sure the taste is fine but the crown wasn’t even. The final loaf was rustic olive, one I’ve been making for months. Somehow in my poolish I missed adding all the flour and got something quite watery. I responded in the build of the dough and added more flour, but still had a pretty slack dough. But! I retarded the dough overnight and baked it this morning. The overnight stay in the fridge adds a lot to flavor, and my final loaf, while more flat that I wanted, had great golden brown color and beautiful blisters on the crust. I can’t vouch for the taste since it’s being sold, but I’m making another for myself tomorrow so I’ll see how it tastes. If it develops the sweet nutty flavor of the Team USA ciabatta, I’ll be happy. Since I have more time tomorrow morning, I’m going to try retarding the dough and then forming the loaf afterward, rather than forming then retarding like I did this time, which let the loaf flatten out during its cool slumber.
Yesterday I found a retailer on my favorite bread website, The Fresh Loaf. I spoke with a woman who owns a farm and harvests her own certified organic wheat, then stone-grinds it to order. Here’s her company, Country Creations. Even with shipping it comes out cheaper than the bulk whole wheat flour at my market, which isn’t organic or freshly milled. I really excited to try this out, and love that I can order directly from the farmer! A few days ago I made some Irish soda bread for myself, and mixed in some whole wheat. It really added an extra layer of flavor, texture, and color, and I’m interested to see how this new flour tastes. I’m expanding my whole wheat and multigrain selection on the Aurora Bakery menu, so we’ll see how it sells.