Monthly Archives: September 2012

tuesdays with dorie / baking with julia: whole wheat loaves

Time again for Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia. I seem to only manage one recipe each month, but I do enjoy staying in the game. This week’s assignment was Whole Wheat Loaves. I always want to make more bread, and this was a good recipe to hone the skills.

These loaves were mostly simple to put together, though locating malt extract or an appropriate substitute produced a bit of angst. The guy at Whole Foods had no idea what I was asking for. I hadn’t checked out the P&Q post for the recipe first. Thank goodness for SmartPhones. A quick scan of the comments while standing in the grocery store aisle indicated that the barley malt syrup would do the trick.

For the whole wheat flour, I used white whole wheat flour. I know it’s a whole grain, but from what I read, it has less gluten and protein than regular whole wheat from red wheat. Higher gluten is supposed to be better for bread, but I used what I had on hand. In the end, my loaf rose as expected and tasted good, so it worked out.

The yeast proofs with a boost of honey (not my own yet for anyone whose wondering). Then, a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat flour is mixed in along with that pesky malt syrup, oil, and salt. I let my stand mixer do the work, until the engine seized, that is. I finished the kneading by hand for the last 5 minutes. It reminded me that manual kneading is so tactile, and satisfying. And now I have a new project to figure out how to repair the mixer…

I took advantage of the bread proofing setting on my oven (I do love high tech for some things). It keeps the temperature at an even 100 degrees. Because room temperature is never all that warm at my house, especially on a brisk fall day before I’ve turned the heat on, the cozy oven works well.

One of the things I enjoy about making homemade bread is how each step is typically simple with long stretches in between to get things done. While the dough did its first rise, I started day 1 of a “Couch to 5K in 9 weeks” program, going for a run. Once the dough doubled in size, I shaped it into flat loaf-shaped patties. While the loaves rose, I spackled nail holes on a window installed 3 years ago and never painted. Once the loaves rose above the rim of the loaf pan (I had my doubts, it starts out so flat), it was time to bake them while I took a shower. What a productive afternoon!

This bread is lovely toasted for breakfast with a bit of butter and marmalade. It seems sturdy enough for a sandwich, though I haven’t sampled that yet. The recipe makes two loaves, so I stashed one in the freezer for next week.

For the recipe, check out this week’s hosts: Teresa (a friend from FFwD) of The Family That Bakes Together and Michele of Veggie Num Nums. The recipe can also be found in Dorie Greenspan’s book, written with Julia Child, Baking with Julia.

And to see how the other bakers made out, you can follow their links here to read all about it.

Life 2.0 Begins

Today is a momentous day for me. Today I start a year-long journey to reflect on my life so far and figure out what I want to do for the rest of it. As the ultimate gift, Howard has granted me a year off from a lifetime of working to step back and decide what I want to be when I grow up. You could say it’s a form of midlife crisis, yet, as Howard points out, if you do the math, I’m probably past that point. Regardless of what you call it, I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to step off the treadmill, clear my head, and see where life takes me.

Do I have a plan? Short-term, I have no plan. The initial objective is to decompress so that I can think clearly about what’s next. The next few months, I’ll focus on creating some order out of the chaos of my material life, with some house projects thrown in for an additional feeling of satisfaction. I followed through on Day 1 of my “starting to run” program. I plan to cook a lot. Also on deck is bonding with Bella (and stealing her heart from Howard, if it’s possible) now that I’m responsible for most of her many daily walks.

Once I start to relax, I’ll see what I miss about the challenges of what my (week)daily life as software engineer has involved and what needs to be adjusted. Then, the exploration will begin.

If you have any ideas for me, please share!