Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bread Time

Our first essay entries have arrived, we'll post a few every two or three days, so if you've sent us an entry and it doesn't appear in this post it will be in a later one.

Leanne Abe has posted her entry named "Teddy Bear Bread, I Miss You" on her blog, Three Dog Kitchen. And Kansas Allen has a bread poem on her blog, Little Things I Do.

Ruth Schall sent us this entry:
Several years ago, a friend and I, both of us accomplished cooks and very proud of that fact, decided to take an entry level bread class.

The class of approximately 20 were divided into teams and assigned a recipe. To our delight, our recipe was a cheese bread. How can you go wrong?

As I proofed the yeast, my friend began shredding the cheese. While we worked, we heard a number of other teams expressing concern over their recipe and asking of beginner questions. We smiled condescendingly at one another and continued our work. When it was time to add the cheese, my friend mentioned that she had shredded a lot more than the recipe called for. "Throw it in" was my quick response and she concurred — more cheese, how could you possibly go wrong?

As the luscious aroma of baking bread permeated the room, we pulled our loaf from the oven. It was beautiful. "Aren't we impressive," we smiled to one another.

After the remainder of the class removed their loaves, the teacher gathered us for a short discussion while the freshly baked loaves rested. She instructed us to cut a few slices of our loaf for passing and gather back to discuss each other's experiences and taste the results.

When we sliced into our bread we discovered a gooey mass of raw dough underneath the shiny toasted top. Oh my gosh... what are we going to do? We attempted to blend in with the crowd, hoping against hope that she would bypass us. Alas, it was not so and our embarrassment was complete. As she viewed the goo, she explained to all our mistake. We were mortified, particularly my friend who attempted to actually sneak out of the classroom!

We never went back!

I am proud to say that now I am aware that bread baking is a science unlike cooking where a little of this, or a lot of cheese, is a good thing!
And Elizabeth Reichhoff sent this one, including a glossary:
Bread, magnificent homemade bread. I'm imaging the warm loaves coming out of Situ's oven, warm delicious pita bread, so good with butter and honey. The softness of these loaves, touching them, you know why these are meant for eating by hand, a tactile pleasure. Or a magnificent round loaf of dense thick bread, boiled and then dipped in clarified butter and left to cool, a golden treat. Or the very thin, almost tortilla-like, loaves that wrap around everything; who needs a fork when you've got these to eat with? Jidu taught my husband to make a goat's ear by tearing a bit of thin bread and making a scoop, shaped like a goat's ear. We use these to scoop up labneh, humous, tabouli, just about anything, really.

Oh, the delightful surprise upon opening the door to the smell of bread baking. If hearts can sing, that's when mine does. The thought nearly makes an audible sound, "Bread! She's making bread!" The only moment when I feel truly small, just a kid. I run up the stairs to the kitchen from my childhood, my footsteps falling on the wood stairs, making the familiar noise of coming home. Forgetting manners and adult conversation, I grab the first loaf I come to, so hot it nearly burns my fingers, but perfectly suited for melting butter. All this comes with Situ's admonishments: "You know, habibte, you can't live on bread alone." I don't believe her, do you?

Situ — my grandmother
Jidu — my grandfather
labneh — a creamy yogurt cheese
humous — garbanzo beans mashed with fresh garlic, lemon juice and tahini
tabouli — bulgar wheat, fresh, hand-chopped parsley, tomatoes, onions, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil
habibte — sweetheart

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