I’ve been in home-baked limbo for awhile. I killed my starter long ago, sometime between the move from Hyde Park to Bridgeport, then was oven-less in our loft for awhile, then had a brief but steamy no-knead fling… but now I’m back to the real thing! I’ve now got two new starters, a wheat and a rye chef for making levain chillin’ in the fridge, and have made a sourdough pesto rye loaf (and am now in the pesto donut hole- used the last of the frozen stuff from the fall, and am far from having fresh basil ready to make more. Will taste all the sweeter when I do!) and sourdough wheat pizza.
My bread bible is Bread Alone (Baking with Julia is my favorite pastry primer, alongside the Tartine pastry cookbook), along with some photocopied sheets from a Peter Reinheart workshop on whole grain breads at an IACP conference that was held at my culinary school while I was in Chef Kelson’s baking class- work for free on a Saturday and meet a bread-guru? Don’t mind if I do! And someday, we’ll get to employ the knowledge in Kiko’s book there to build a clay oven (and warming bench!) for breads, pizzas, and casseroles… till then, it’s the trusty baking stone, spray bottle, and cutie-pie vintage Chambers oven for the win.
It (or rather, they, as we’ve ended up with two of them, the copper-colored one that came with our cooktop, and a stainless one we rescued from a date with the curb… both Craigslist finds. Someday we’ll have a kitchen big enough to stack them and have the double-oven I’ve always drooled over…) was made in the early 1950’s in Shelbyville, IN, and will probably still be baking away when my grand-nieces are ready to learn. I love well-made things, that pre-date planned obsolescence. It’s fairly efficient too- well-insulated with rockwool, plenty of thermal mass in the cast-iron floor, and the kicker is that the switch to shut off the gas to the oven also closes a damper in the bottom to seal off the inside- a little like a space-age straw-box cooker. They were advertised to “Cook with the Gas Off!” and were designed so housewives could put a casserole in the oven, bake for a specified amount of time, then shut-it off, go get your hair-did, pick up little Johnny from Little League or Susie from knitting class, or whatever… and dinner would be hot and ready as soon as Dear Darling stepped through the door and changed from suit to sport jacket. The culture may have changed, but the utility has not…
I have a freezer-full of spent grain from the fellow’s wheat-beer brew last Saturday ready to turn into sourdough spent grain bread from those recipes for the Nite Market this weekend… we’ll also have jars of herbal tea (lemon balm, raspberry leaf, mint, and rose blend from our gardens), honey, jars of sage-lemon wine mustard, some other Alewyfe Farm preserves and salsas, hopefully another batch of caramelized onion confit, canine cookies for your dog friends, and some strawberry-porter chocolate cupcakes for sale, with tasty adult beverages to share as well! We’ll be at the ReBuilding Exchange from 6-9 this Saturday along with 40 or so other food artisans, and it’s a private event so there’s a $2 membership fee at the door. More details here!