All the Spokane food-related stuff that I can't figure out how to wedge into my other blog.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New year's resolution: bake bread again

I used to do a lot of baking. About 8 years ago I started Owen, which was the name for our natural yeast starter. I really got into attempting to bake artisan-style breads. I never really nailed it. I made bread that was great and I really loved, but I've never totally and utterly nailed the bread that I wanted to. I'm not sure if I ever will.

About 3 years ago I stopped making our regular bread. Even though we dialed in a great process which really minimized our time dealing with the bread, we just got too busy with other stuff and I reluctantly dropped the bread out of our daily routine to balance out other stuff. Plus, we had my mom cranking out amazing breads. So it wasn't a huge loss since we still had great bread all the time.

My mom grabbed a bit of Owen about a year after I had started it and she subsequently baked all of her breads with that same starter. She made a great ciabatta.

Mom always made great bread. When we were kids she always made this really super hearty whole wheat loaf. It's all the bread we had - I'd make these giant sandwiches out of thickly cut home made bread and be embarrassed opening it up at lunch it as my buddies unwrapped their tidy little Wonder bread delights.

My mom died a few months ago. Recently, my sister and I went through my mom's kitchen stuff and took a few things. The biggest thing I took, certainly the heaviest, was her old Hobart mixer. It's the perfect size for a home baker. Given the huge size of the Hobart, it probably seems grandiose on the surface, but the fact is, if you get into rustic/artisan/substantial breads, you will go through mixers like crazy. I've killed two. One was a super 6 quart Kitchen Aid, the other was a normal 5 quart Kitchen Aid. And these were the "heavy duty" ones. They just can't turn a sizable substantial dough. And by Hobart standards, this one is dinky. But it's perfect for the home.

This Hobart will allow me to make an easy 6 loaves at a time. Mom would do 12, but she sold her bread. Quickly. I usually keep 1/2 and give away 1/2.

So, my goal in the new year is to figure out a baking schedule where I can put out about 6 loaves of hearty yummy daily driver bread every week. Owen is hibernating in my mom's freezer. He's a tough old bird and I have no doubt he'll be enthusiastic in his revival come January.

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