23 May 2006

Bread and Jam For Frances

So when people asked me what I did over the weekend, I told them that I made bread and jam. It sounded a little strange to my ears, and I generally followed up with a recitation of the social round I also crammed into last weekend's agenda (along with cleaning the bathroom, fishtank, catbox, porch, and car. Well. Dave cleaned out the car. I just paid the panel beater $500. But still.)

But the thing I keep coming back to is the bread. It's not like making it afforded me any blinding flashes of insight into my personal life; actually, I got kind of wound up trying to do everything and couldn't sleep Sunday night. But I made the time for it. And somehow at work, sitting in meetings or trying for the thousand time to get a project finished in the midst of eleven hundred interruptions, when I start to get a little stressed and think things like, "Maybe I'll stay a little later tonight" or "I should really come in at 7 tomorrow", I kind of visualise the bread sitting in the fridge and it's like ... maybe I won't stay a little longer. Maybe I'll come in at 8:30 tomorrow. Maybe all this stuff can wait, because I am the kind of person who makes bread. I don't know much else about that kind of person, but apparently it's someone who takes herself seriously enough to go home at 5 to her bread.

I made Basic White Bread, the first recipe in the book. I was a little worried since I wasn't very sure the bread had doubled in size during its first rising; also during the second rising, it rose lumpily from the loaf pan, bulging obscenely on one side and swaybacked on the other. Will my bread turn out looking like it has a skin disease? I wondered.

But no. It was beautifully even across the top, ascending in a sprightly golden fashion above the edge of the loaf pan, with the three diagonal slashes opened up across the top like the spine of a book. Amazing. I can make bread which rises.

It is much chewier than sliced supermarket bread. (This may be a flaw in my breadmaking. I don't know what texture homemade bread is supposed to have. All my bread so far has turned out to be the kind of bread which steps right up and says hello to your jaws.)

In between the first and second rises, I washed and sterilized the jam jars, then put some frozen raspberries on one pie plate and some sugar on another and heated them up good-style. Then I combined the two and (messily) decanted them into the waiting jam jars. (I need a jam funnel. My mom is the only person I know who owns one.) Then I watched Carrie.

Tell me why bread and jam together taste so good? Altogether, my ingredients were: flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar, and raspberries. How did the yeast and the flour and the water mix together to produce this amazingly textured, complexely-flavoured chunk of deliciousness? It's like magic or something.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Bread and jam rocks. And homemade bread always rocks hardest. I need to get back to that myself -- I meant to all winter and somehow just never did. But until the weather gets so hot that the bread gets all yeasty the second you set it out, I can still do it. And hell, maybe then I'll have something to blog about.

And who is that handsome dog in your picture?!