Monday, November 8, 2010

"Bread is Better than the Song of Birds"

-Danish Proverb-
Bread baking in Winter is the continuation of the Farmer's romance with grass.
In a kind of patient passion, after the grain has been harvested and threshed and stored, after the grasses have long since died back and lie under a heavy blanket of Winter snow...the farmer mixes and kneads and causes to ferment grains in a warm kitchen...buoyed by a hot oven and many cups of tea.
The world of Bread is fascinating.
Peter Reinhart speaks of this tousle with the grain in his book "Artisan Bread Everyday":

" The baker's mission is to learn how to draw out the full potential flavor trapped in the grain...(he) accomplish(es) this by understanding the effects of time and temperature on the ingredients..."

He goes on to describe slow processes of cold fermentation (stick your dough in the refrigerator and go to sleep, letting the yeast work it's magic...) as a kind of "manipulation of time".
There is so much Romance packed into this way of speaking about Bread making. Everyone - bakers and non-bakers alike instinctively sense the historical signifigance of a loaf of freshly baked bread...there is a kind of continuity that is experienced
when one samples a loaf of home made bread, a continuity of experience that spans across the ages...linking all nationalities of human beings. Bread is the stuff of Life. A representation of the year's harvest. It is the universal food. Christ chose it to partake in His great Sacrament. It is the food of peasants and kings alike...It has sparked Revolutions, ("Let them eat Brioche") and it has been present at many a romantic Parisian picnic beside a bottle of wine.
We have been enjoying our foray into the world of Ryes, and Seed Cultures, Pane L'Anciene (the unbelievable experience of a truly french baguette, complete with crackling crust and airy crumb,)and other worthy adventures in persuading the grain to reveal itself...It truly is the perfect study for a farmer in Winter.

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