19 May 2006

Why is being a hausfrau so unstylish?

I bake bread.

So far I have made James Beard's recipe for Swedish Limpa three times and each time it has come out better that before. Previous attempts at yeast baking: dough for focciacia which was tougher than rhinocerous jerky. Supposedly pizza dough is the easiest thing to make, so I figured that maybe baking, with yeast or without (I also make crappy pie crusts) was Not For Me. I don't have kitchen scales or anything, and also, baking is all about chemistry, which was a terrible subject for me in high school.

But possessed by some demon, I decided to try to make the Swedish Limpa recipe which I remembered my mom making when we were growing up. So mom gave me the recipe, and I ... tried it. Despite not knowing how much yeast to put in. (I guessed and went with two teaspoons.) Plus not knowing how to tell how when water is between 100 and 115 degrees farenheit, which is where it's supposed to be when you proof the yeast (an operation of mystery to me). And also despite the three separate risings.

And it came out okay. It tasted fabulous, just as I remembered: lots of orange and cardamom and beery goodness. It was also extremely dense and moist. Sort of like eating a delicious, extremely dense thing. Clearly, the texture left something to be desired. But apparently, bread baking is more like normal cooking, in that you can play with a lot of the ingredients and it will still turn out edible most of the time. I thought maybe I could handle this thing.

So now I have a copy of James Beard's Beard on Bread, where the Swedish Limpa recipe originates from. I am toying with the idea of copying Julie/Julia and baking my way through Beard's 100 favorite bread recipes and blogging about it. Why, you ask, would I do such a thing? Partly because I am a big geek about cooking and homemaking in general. I have an apron collection, people. But also because the rest of my life goes really fast.

I drive fast to get to work, I work to deadlines every day, I jam my schedule as full as possible, trying to shoehorn something in to every minute of the day. And what has all that resulted in? Some strange auto-immune stuff, that's what. I am coming to the conclusion that my body is trying to tell my brain to SLOW DOWN. Which is the nice thing about making bread: you can't rush it. You can't really make bread rise much faster. I don't have a KitchenAid, or even room in my kitchen or checkbook for one, so I can't take a shortcut that way, either.

So it's not like I have time to either make bread or write any fiction, let alone keep up with a blog ... but that's kind of the point of doing it.

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