28 February 2011

a bread story, of sorts.

Persistence it what it's all about.  Yesterday I failed two loaves of bread.  When I say fail, I mean fail.  You see, I'd been making Molly's Oatmeal Sandwich Bread (pictured above, with the addition of some seeds) almost every weekend since she posted that recipe.  It's good.  Really good.  But it was time for a change.  A couple of weeks ago, I tried making some wheat berry bread.  Fail.  It was a recipe from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook that I had been meaning to try for a while, but would never remember it in time to soak the wheat berries overnight.  Two weekends ago, I remembered.  Wheat berries were soaked, recipe was followed. Fail.  I don't know if it was the recipe's fault or mine.  You see, I was not instructed to cook the wheat berries, merely soak them.  So they were still relatively hard and an unpleasant surprise whenever I bit into one, which was often.  

Back to the Oatmeal Sandwich Bread.  Then, a few weeks ago, Natalie recommended Simply in Season.  I immediately requested it from the library and have been pretty enthralled.  Being that we're heavily in Winter right now, I was looking for some cooking inspiration.  On Sunday morning, my eyes ran across a recipe for Whole Wheat Flax Bread and I knew it was just what I wanted.  Whole wheat, flax, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, honey, yum.  Everything was going just dandy, until it came out of the oven.  It was stuck to the pan.  Really stuck.  Oof.  Jared and I managed to get it out, and it completely fell apart.  Oof.  Also, there was a whole in the middle of the loaf.  (Why does that happen, anyone? I remember it happening occasionally when I worked at the bakery, but I don't remember the cause.)

So there I was, miss grumpypants.  Later in the afternoon, I decided to have another go at it.  Of course, I had used up all my ground flax on the first loaf so I was forced to try something else.  I went back to the recipe that had previously been the standby before I switched to the Oatmeal Bread.  A basic honey wheat that I had found through Melissa.  I had never had great success with this recipe, but it had done its job.  While I was kneading it, something definitely seemed off.  The dough was tough and very small.  But on I pressed.  By the time the first rise was supposed to be completed, it had barely grown.  I tried moving it onto the radiator for another half-hour, but still nothing.  So there I was.  Defeated.  No bread to show for myself.  But one loaf that had fallen apart and was destined to become bread crumbs, and a second piece of dough that was headed for the freezer in the hopes that someday it will make a decent pizza crust.  (I'm opting to leave out the part of the story where Freddie somehow knocked the destroyed loaf of bread off the counter in the hopes of making it his own.  He was caught).  

Currently, I have another attempt at the Whole Wheat Flax Bread rising (let's cross our fingers).  And I've got a rye sourdough starter bubbling away waiting for the weekend.  So there you go.  Persistence, right?  And a very long story about bread.


  1. i am so happy that you checked out simply in season! i have honestly never tried their bread recipes, but every other recipe really blows me away... especially considering it focuses on in-season whole foods with few ingredients. so amazing! & really- don't give up! bread is SO hard sometimes, but if anyone can do it- YOU can! julia, i really admire your willingness to dig deep into everything you're passionate about. it is so evident on your blog. girl, you rock & i will have my fingers crossed just for you ;)!

    by the way, luke has a very old copy of this artisan bread cookbook that he used before we worked at a bakery (& were given free bread). i could mail it to you? he has had great success! email me with your address if you are interested... natalie.j.freeman@gmail.com

  2. julia, you are an inspiration. i'm planning on mastering a few things in my dad's kitchen this year and i have no doubt i will return often to this : )