It’s so weird we eat bread. Its like.. the seeds of grass, dried and ground up really fine and then made into a paste that you trap bacteria in, feeding them, letting their farts and burps puff up your paste, and then cooking it. That’s weird right? But it’s also, kind of like magic.
Sometimes when the seasons change– particularly from winter to spring, and from summer to fall, it kind of fucks me up a bit. I get all weird.. wistful, sad, nostalgic, overwhelmed. A bit depressed really. Not by anything in particular, I guess it just makes me vulnerable or something. Warm days start coming, or going, and suddenly I miss my family way more. I get more worried. I can’t handle problems as well as normal. I start getting really itchy feet. Maybe we should go somewhere else now! LETS GO! And then I get my “black hole stomach ache.” Thats what Ive called it in my head since I first started getting it when I was about ten. Like this feeling Im being sucked inwards into my belly button and its a constant dull ache of uncomfortable general fuzzy kinda ennui and perplexed spirtual anguish. I just want to hide in bed, feeling my feelings, talking to the universe outloud until it starts answering back. That kind of mental deterioration, ya know? Or mental retardation, one or the other. Anyway, its not so bad, because I always know its coming. And CB is here, and gives my brains an anchor so it doesnt float out into space. WeeEooOo.. And my brother sent me a really long awesome email, and I talked to my fam for a long time, it was my Dad’s B-day. I sent him a terrible sci fi book for his birthday but Im sending it uhhh tomorrow so its gonna be late!
Usually on a day like this. CB not home, black hole vortex of my soul trying to suck up the last crumbs of my sanity, I would usually not handle it well. I would usually take off on a really long walk, and get really lost and my family would think I’ve been kidnapped. I just walked 12 km to take pictures of tree branches on the other side of town completely at random, oops sorry! That sometimes helps. Or stop eating for a few days, just drink tea. That feels good too. Or in my younger years, get really ridiculously blasted on wine and end up alone in the middle of a lake at 3 in the morning talking to a fox like we’re besties. Yeah not so good. Or go for long drives with CB.. Better.
Anyway, to take my mind off of it, I keep my hands busy. I made seal stew and bread. Isnt that the most newfie bloody meal ever. I’m becoming one, resistance is futile. Bread is the best, and the best bread takes all, fucking, day. Bread that you have to really pay attention to. I think its good to spend a day paying attention to the smallest details of a mundane task. Makes you focus and appreciate. Best respect.
Look at this damn sexy ass bread I made. It was really good, I’ve eaten almost all of it! And it wasn’t just an excuse to eat half a pound of butter!
Cranking old dirty bastard as loud as possible and drinking about 4 pots of tea also helps. Helps the uh, gluten develop.
Breads good for Poors like us, because dont need a lot of fancy shit to make a nice loaf of bread. You just need water and flour. And yeast. But you dont even have to buy that, you can just mix up equal parts flour and water in a jar and leave it open for a day. The next day, dump half of it out, and mix half as much flour and water again. When it’s ready, you’ll see its bubbly, and breathing. IT’S ALIVE! Your dough now has a delicious yeast infection. It’s a good thing. *martha voice*
I used mine with some rye flour and water and made a sourdough starter this morning. Mixed it together and let it sit covered on the fridge all morning. You can do this all night if you want. It develops a nice, sour, beer flavour. And smells like apple juice.
I made a big batch of oatmeal about 6 days ago, because Im too lazy to do anything for breakfast in the morning aside from shovel a few mouthfuls of cold oatmeal into me. Depressing, I know, but it’s worth the extra 3 hits of that powerful, powerful drug; the snooze button. So I had a cup or so of cooked steel cut oats in the fridge. Toasted them up in a pan, let them cool and then put them in with my starter.
In september I was doing some test batches of apple jelly. The earlier ones didnt set, and were a thick sweet syrup consistency. Still vibrant, and tart, and I thought that would be nice with the oatmeal.
Poured that over top, adding some sweetness.
Ain’t that just about the perdiest thang ya ever did see? Burping and farting deliciousness.
It starts to come together.
Not too dry, not too wet, tacky, and forms a ball.
Wrap it and let it sit to “autolyse” for about 20 minutes.
Look at it’s little breathe! So cool.
Dump it’s dumpy little bod out on a bit of flour.
Work it, with clean fingers, adding flour as you go if it starts getting sticky. You want to keep it workable, but it will take more flour. Too much flour and the dough becomes stiff and hard to work with. If you’re doing it by hand, its hard to get to that point. In a mixer, it’s way easier, so watch out.
This dough is really high in grains, so its going to take longer to knead. I spend about 15 minutes at the counter. You want to get right over top of your dough, and push it over itself downwards, not smearing outwards so much. It will lighten in colour, and become more elastic.
This is about as good a gluten window as you’re going to get with a dough with oatmeal and rye in it. Good stuff.
Put it down for it’s nap.
Cover it with saran wrap or a tea towel and let it sit and double in size. Depending on how warm your kitchen is, this could take 15 minutes to an hour. When it has doubled, gently degas it, or punch it down.
Let it double again, and punch it down one more time.
Now watch my tum in my favourite, and dirtiest, Adventure Time t-shirt show you how it’s done to some sexy slow jam music. Or awkwardly no music, if my youtube editing didnt work just now. Hope you like the sound of a chubby girl breathing while squishing dough all around.. what am I talking about, i know you freaks are into that.. I’ve seen your google searches.
Preheat your oven to 400F. Put a pan in the oven to catch the water you’re going to chuck in there soon.
The third time you punch it down, shape it, and let it double again, covered.
When it’s ready to go, cut score marks in your bread. This helps it keep it shape, avoiding blowouts and also, it looks nice.
Put your bread in the oven and immediately throw a cup of cold water into the pan in your oven. It will make a ton of steam, make sure to shut the oven quickly to keep it in there. This will give you a nice crust.
2 minutes later, do it again, or spritz it with water from a spray bottle. Do it again 2 minutes later. Let it bake for about 35 minutes.
Nice brown crust. Crunchy, and crackly. Its done when you tap its bottom and it makes a hollow TUNK sound, like its all empty in there. It should feel light. Oh, and smell like heaven.
The oatmeal adds protein, a nutty flavour, and makes the texture of your dough moister in a good way. It will also help it keep longer. This trick also works with barley, or rice..
Focusing on a small thing.. keeping your hands moving, digging into messy sticky dough. Making something. Watching the sunshine fall on a crusty loaf of real bread you made, slathering it way, way too much butter. The only medicine for black hole stomach aches is to appreciate all the small things you might usually have missed, slipped through your fingers, leaving less for you to feel sad about come next spring. It will be less. Eventually maybe it will be gone, and you will be fat with love and surrounded by hundreds of loaves of fucking bread.
OH ALSO ! First fly of the spring!