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.