Yeast Of Eden

After three days of torrential rain (over four days) which we needed badly, it’s perfect again. The stream rose so high it actually displaced a few of the garden beds, requiring some work today to get things back in place. Besides shifting the 2×10 frames, the water moved some soil around, and strewed freshly-planted garlic cloves in the paths nearby. I got it all back together in short order, and topped up a couple of beds with compost for good measure. The combination of copious water followed by copious sun is having a highly salutary effect on the late plantings; turnips and winter greens are fattening right up. The carrots are great, and the burdock leaves are attaining prehistoric size. It’s been great bread weather.

The smells of fall are in in full effect, and a house perfumed by bread baking fits right in. Up above is a Dutch oven-baked sourdough made from about 60% white and 20% each whole wheat and rye. As soon as it cooled, we hacked it into thick slices and schmeared them with the cultured butter we like so much. I could eat bread and butter like this for a meal (and I did, more than once, for lunch). I love having the hardening heels around too for breadcrumbs and croutons that rise above simple encrunchening flourishes and become fully participating ingredients, adding character and finesse to whatever dish they embellish. A current favorite is tomates provençales: halved tomatoes baked with a garlicky, parsley-inflected paste of bread crumbs and olive oil on top. They go with everything, and provide a handy way to use the tomatoes that keep on coming. I’ll get a shot of some tomorrow and put those up, too. In the coming weeks it’s going to be all about the urgency of eating the frost-susceptibles before they wither in the coming cold. I’ve got some salsas and chutneys to get canned as well now that all the tomato sauce is done, but there’s time. Today I made a metric shitload of grape jelly.

I’m really enjoying the ongoing dialogue with our jar of starter; as the ambient temperature drops, I can bring it out of the fridge and let it hang out on the counter (next to the jars of vinegar, fermenting away) without worrying that it will erupt all over the place. The laundry room is a reliable 75˚ because the furnace is in there, so it’s ideal for rising dough, and I still have the big bowl my Mother used for the same purpose. I take requests from the family, making those rolls, or a big boule to bring to a potluck, or most recently this loaf, made from Wild Hive Farm‘s 00 bread flour (c. 75%) with the remainder their rye flour. I’ve got the hydration pretty good, and I salt it and knead it hard for about 7 minutes after a 20 minute rest at the beginning. Then I put it in the laundry room in an oiled bowl and let it do its thing. Depending on the rowdiness of the starter, this can be as long as overnight, which is great because I like to bake in the morning so there’s fresh bread for the day. Lately the routine has been to make the bread right before I do the dinner dishes, then clean it all up together, then bake first thing the next day.

That picture is a bit blown out because I forgot to change the ISO after some low-light shooting, so here’s some close-up flax seed action. I really should build a brick oven.

I’m posting this on yeastspotting, where spotting yeast is what they do.

6 comments to Yeast Of Eden

  • El

    The ONLY downside to having a brick oven as I see it is you don’t smell the bread baking. BUT: 12 loaves cooling and sitting on the counter after their bake? Okay thereyago.

    And can I get a translation into quarts of what a metric shitload of jam would be?

  • jo

    I’m here to request a few things. I think we need a pie chart to show the relevance of “metric shitload” to say holy batshitload.
    Also, perhaps you have already told us before and if so forgive my ignorance, but is there a starter recipe here that you use for us neophytes? A skin allergy to flour tends to stop me from baking bread, but not entirely. I’m tempted heartily by that top loaf.

  • Peter

    El: That would be 36 half pint jars, or 2.25 gallons. About 25 pounds (post-sorting) of unknown lambrusca or hybrids picked from a friend’s abundant trellis.

    Jo: Try this.
    That top loaf is a no-knead recipe, so my hands barely touched it. You could wear gloves for the shaping part.

  • Well this is all very nice, I like the new layout (even though I was rather attached to that dinner table picture)and I particulary like the picture of you gardening in a suit – the dandy gardener. My mum is a great breadmaker and I would love to follow in her footsteps but never really have. Maybe I can follow in yours. How do I start to make a starter, maybe you have written a post about this already, I have a feeling you have, if so please point me in that direction. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some catching up to do on this magnificently refurbished cookblog.

  • Peter

    Rachel: Just click the link in my comment to Jo above. I’m sure you’ll do famously with the wonderful 00 flour they have over there. And I’m glad you like the new spot.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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