Give Us This Day, Our Daily Bread

Deep, Dark, Crusted, Brown

Sadly, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve had an opportunity to bake.

Between our hectic schedule lately, there hasn’t been any time for futzing around in the kitchen.  It’s an activity I’ve missed, one that I find increasingly meditative and peaceful, and a welcome distraction from the Everyman’s incessant pow-pow-pow zombie-killing escapades. So when the opportunity to bake presented itself this weekend I jumped at it, comforted by the fact that whatever I chose would be sacrilicious.

Half an hour spent idly flipping through my regular bread book (Local Breads by Daniel Leader) on our patio led to a handful of potentials, none of which required any advance prep on my part, either.  Eventually I chose a pain de mais, a corn flour and rye-based Italian bread solely on the basis that all of the other breads I’d chosen would’ve required me to walk to the store for provisions, and it was bloody steamy outside.

The recipe for pain de mais is upfront, stating that it is quite the anomaly for an Italian bread, being that most Italian breads rely on wheat flour only.  Because this bread has a low proportion of wheat flour in comparison to rye and corn, the book notes that the bread will not rise much, producing something only slightly more leavened than a cracker.  It promises a flavour that’s out of this world though, which was all the convincing I needed.

Corn Dough

After mixing up a batch of the sticky, corn-coarse dough, it was left to rise for several hours in our sunny kitchen window.  When I came back later, the dough was pebbled and shot through with large, airy pockets.  Trying to get it out of the bowl and onto my baker’s peel significantly deflated the bubbles, though.

Crown And Torpedo

I decided to work on my bread-shaping skills by fashioning one loaf into a crown and the other into a torpedo.  Returning the peel to the warmth of the window, the bread was allowed to rise once again.

Flat And Proofed

A few hours later, the crown had expanded and engulfed the middle hole, and the torpedo was fat and robust, more like a freeform pizza.  Baked for half an hour, the bread was as thin as expected, but appealingly golden and brown.  It was flatter, harder and crustier than the breads I’m accustomed to baking, but it resonated with a toasted, nutty flavour unlike anything I’d ever sampled before.  Though somewhat different from my norm, I wouldn’t rule out baking it again.

Until next time…

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