Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Lost Stories

When we started our contest to give away a copy of Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers, we thought that perhaps a few people would share an amusing story of bread-baking and we were right. A few more — maybe more than a few — shared heart-warming stories of baking bread, while others wrote a poem or a song. We have had a blast reading all of these entries and would like to thank you all again for taking the time to join in.

We were, however, dismayed when we got a message from someone asking why we hadn't posted his story in the final roundup because we certainly didn't mean to leave anyone out. A lot of work went into your stories and they are each wonderful in their own way. This got me started thinking about missing entries and where they might have gone... a train of thought that stopped at a gMail spam folder. A spam folder that is apparently a part of the Bermuda Triangle since it held all sorts of missing things. Including a number of contest entries.


So, with our apologies we present the actual last round of bread stories to be followed shortly by announcements of winners. Four of them.
What? Did she say four?
Yes, I believe she did!
But... I thought it was two?
It was but now isn't.
So FOUR people get copies of Local Breads?
Yes, we found two more copies of the book so we get to give copies to two lucky runnersup (er, runnerups?) ["runnersup" - Ed.]. So look for four winning names, starting tomorrow. In the meantime, on with the stories.

Zach tells us a story of a man, a woman, and their wild love for wild yeast:
Two weeks before my wedding, I made sourdough starter — my second attempt ever. I wanted to bake communion bread for the wedding service to be held on my family’s farm. My fiancée, Kira, and I were excited about using wild yeast as leaven — some of it from the very air of the farm on which we would marry — but I was nervous that it wouldn't be ready in time.

I mixed water and flour, and refreshed it daily, putting the starter in the farmhouse's basement to keep it safe from the July heat. I made frequent trips down the worn, wooden steps to check on it, hoping the yeast were happy with what I had given them. After about a week, it was bubbling with life, ready to make bread!

Two days before my wedding, I made a firm starter. The next day, I mixed up the dough, fermented it, shaped it into boules, and put it in the refrigerator. I woke up on my wedding day with two thoughts in my head: "Today I will marry the woman I love," and, "I need to get the bread in the oven!" The sourdough baked into some of the best loaves I have made. It was so special to carry it down the aisle alongside some homemade wine from Kira’s grandfather. I know I will often think of that feeling as I am baking bread, and the smell fills up the kitchen like it did on my wedding day.

(Beth dabs eyes with tissue)
Cerddinen offers excellent advice at the start of her tale of making Susan's Italiano No-knead Bread: "Make sure to completely read and understand the instructions." Excellent advice which she, of course, ignored. The story sounds like my bread (this is Beth of the long, cold rise) as her dough goes in and out of the refrigerator because "I'm not waiting till 1 A.M. to put this sucker in the oven." (Kevin, she served it with North Carolina Style Vinegar Based BBQ Pork. Is the BBQ pig a secret message to you?) [The Legions of the Slow Order of the Pig are as grains of sand. - Ed.]

Don Luis shares his journey while seeking a new way of making his much missed crusty Italian bread after a move to Puerto Rico where basic ingredients including instant yeast and unbleached flour are impossible to find. Starting with a simple nine-step recipe for Pan de Luis and ending with a two-phase, 19 step bread-building process at Pan de Luis Redux, Don Luis seems to have mastered bread in a land that is 1400 miles from the nearest Whole Foods.

Druzsbaczk writes from Hungary (where 'cock' means water valve) [Thanks for that clarification - Ed.]
My family is gourmet, and we like delicate food as gifts, especially homemade things. Last year I planned to bake a german-style sourdough bread for my father. The procedure needs about 5 days.

Everything had gone well, on 23rd December morning I made the last step of feeding my sourdough, and wanted to wash the used spoon and other dishes. As I opened the cock, suddenly it dropped out, and stayed in my hand! I had to call my Father (excellent handyman), he came over in 20 minutes — so I had to cover all the bread's tracks: bowl, spoon, flour...

He fixed my cock, and did not realized the present sourdough — everything's OK! I baked the bread, it looked nice, father was surprised and happy, and we tasted it at dinner.

Bad surprise: tasty, but absolutely saltless! Unfortunately I forget to mix in salt before baking — this was the "sacrifice" of the cock...
Huiping checks in from Singapore to tell of her first attempt at bread, which looks awfully tasty for being deemed a partial success. She also has some photos of wonderful looking cranberry & black currant scones. And a cat who knows how to make himself at home at the table.

Baking Soda digresses mightily as she talks of being a stay-at-home-mom and how she started her blog. Then by way of making us all jealous, she bakes five kinds of bread from three new cookbooks. That's one busy woman!

Over at Anomalous Cognition, Jenny, well actually Eric, poses one of the eternal questions of life: "Time passed. I grew a garden, with a big parsley patch and a tomato plant (okay, twelve), and one day we decided the time had come to make tabbouleh fresh from the garden. 'And you'll make your pita bread?' Eric said to me. 'Maybe this time it will poof.'"

You have to go read her contest entry "Pitas" to see how it turns out.

Speaking of pitas and poofiness, BC of Beans and Caviar also made pita bread. Oddly, it was the first bread she ever made and she had never seen a pita before! Perhaps the title of the post "Pita Footballs" gives you a hint of what she encountered.

That's it for today. Check back tomorrow for the first winner of an autographed copy of Local Breads.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love,love,love the wedding story!!!


9/06/2007 9:54 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

You would.{g}

9/06/2007 10:25 PM  
Blogger Baking Soda said...

Never thought bread could be romantic but then the wedding story? *Swoon*! The aroma of this bread forever linked to a special day. I hope they live happily ever after (otherwise it will be quite eh..hard to pass a bakery)

Thanks for retrieving my story out of the Bermuda triangle!

9/07/2007 2:03 AM  
Blogger Joanna said...

Wonderful wedding story ... reminds me that Jamie Oliver, much maligned TV cook, baked the bread for his wedding breakfast, and I've always admired him for it.


9/07/2007 3:55 AM  

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