The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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flour fingers

When I saw my teenage son, the one not too fond of reading, reading "the Hunger Games" books, I decided to give it a read as well. I remember the Harry Potter days, reading them to see what my daughter and her friends were all talking about. We ended up reading at least the first book together as a family.  (My daughter and I would read others together with her hiding them while she was in school so I wouldn't read ahead.)

So now there I was reading the Hunger Game series.

Not too bad. Especially since one of the main characters was a baker. Here is what I read that inspired me to try this loaf.

First, for those who missed the books and movie, the main character, Katniss, is thinking back to when she was about 12 years old and was starving, along with her little sister and mother. She had been walking in the rain, looking in trash bins, looking for scraps to take home. She was out behind the bakery, next to the pigs, wishing she would just die.

“There was a clatter in the bakery and I heard the woman screaming again and the sound of a blow, and I vaguely wondered what was going on. Feet sloshed toward me through the mud and I thought, Its her. She’s coming to drive me away with a stick. but it wasn’t her. It was the boy. In his arms, he carried two large loaves of bread that must have fallen into the fire because the crusts were scorched black.

His mother was yelling “Feed it to the pig, you stupid creature! Why not? No one decent will buy burned bread!”

He began to tear off chunks from the burned parts and toss them into the trough, and the front bakery bell rung and the mother disappeared to help a customer.

The boy never even glanced my way, but I was watching him. Because of the bread, because of the red weal that stood out on his cheekbone. What had she hit him with? My parents never his us. I couldn’t even imagine it. The boy took one look back to the bakery as if checking that the coast was clear, then, his attention back on the pig, he threw a loaf of bread in my direction. The second quickly followed, and he sloshed back to the bakery, closing the kitchen door tightly behind him.

I stared at the loaves in disbelief. They were fine, perfect really, except for the burned areas. Did he mean for me to have them? He must have. Because there they were at my feet. Before anyone could witness what had happened I shoved the loaves up under my shirt, wrapped the hunting jacket tightly about me, and walked swiftly away. The heat of the bread burned into my skin, but I clutched it tighter, clinging to life.

By the time I reached home  , the loaves had cooled somewhat, but the insides were still warm. When I dropped them on the table, Prim’s hands reached to tear off a chunk, but I made her sit, forced my mother to join us a  the table, and poured warm tea. I scraped off the black stuff and sliced the bread. We ate an entire loaf, slice by slice. It was good hearty bread, filled with raisins and nuts.”

As you can see from the description, it leaves plenty of room for interpretation. So, back a year or so ago, I made 2 free form loaves of what I called Peeta bread, for that was the name of the bakery boy. I made it hearty, whole grain with nuts and raisins. It turned out great and then I promptly lost my notes on what I did and forgot about it.

This week my older son was giving me the ol' sad eyes for homemade hearty bread. (yes, with the heat in the 90's so I-don't-think-so). But now it is a tad cooler so I popped the ingredients in my bread machine for mixing, then put it in a loaf pan, mainly because I got busy and forgot I was going to free form it. Big deal. It turned out just as yummy as before and with no white flour.

Here is a picture from my first batch, back when. I posted it on my blog, but didn't include the recipe. To be true to form, I should have burnt it.Hunger Games inspired bread

Here is what I used:

1 1/4 cups water

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 Tbsp. leftover mashed potatoes

1 Tbsp. molasses

2 Tbsp. honey

1/4 cup rye flour

3 cups (more or less) white whole wheat flour

1 tsp. salt

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

when the bread machine beeped at me, I added:

some sunflower seeds, some chopped pecans, cranberries and raisins.

I think the starch in the potatoes helped the yeast do its yeasty thing. It grew beautifully, not too fluffy, not too dense. I started it while I was making dinner and it was out of the oven by bedtime. I toyed with the idea of pre-ferments, bigga and so forth, but my boys really just wanted some bread and would not appreciate the nuances of delayed bread, only the fact that they had to wait another day to eat it.

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