Monday, April 26, 2010

up next

It's finally time - berries are in season - we'll see how this goes.

Recipes are for the weak

When I first began cooking, I really did place some stock in that sentiment. I believed that all that was necessary to become a great cook was imagination. Throwing a bunch of ingredients together in a clever way, that was the backbone of everything I did in the kitchen. Some squash, zucchini, onion, can of tomatoes, onion and sugar - that was the basis of every pasta sauce I made. Salsa? Why not just throw a can of black beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, cilantro into a bowl. It was easy, low pressure and it felt like I was creating something. A recipe seemed like rules. If you weren't making it up as you went along then what was the point?

This was the beginning. Then, I fell in love with food.

I learned that sometimes, no matter how much imagination you approach an ingredient with, it is impossible to wing it and end up with something edible. I began to listen and watch and read. I began to understand the science behind cooking and the beauty of a well-tested recipe.

I think this recipe collection that I inherited is a good marriage of the two philosophies. These recipes are often sketches, outlines of a dish with a little wiggle room left in.
This bread, however, is a the exact opposite of that school of thought though. Homemade bread is science. It's the power of a leavening agent. It's chemical reactions and gas and magic.

Until I better understand the science behind yeast and baking soda, I don't think I should wander too far from the exact recipe. I did half this recipe as four packages of yeast and 10 cups of flour just seemed like a lot of investment for a recipe I wasn't 100% sure would turn out edible (see yeast rolls post). Half the recipe turned out two large dense loaves of sweet, yeasty wheat bread.

It was excellent and thanks to the dough hook on my mixer, a lot easier than one would think.

Sorry for the bad scan job on the recipe:

sorry. ....

It's been a while, but great bread post coming later today!