Loaves for my Father
I have not done much baking in the last month and a half since my Father suffered a stroke. After a brief stay in the hospital, he was moved to a rehabilitation center for speech, occupational and physical therapy. Subsequently, our days were busy with work, shuttling my mother back and forth from her apartment to the rehab center where she would spend all day with him and preparing dinner for her in the evening since she was too tired to even think about herself. Unfortunately, because the stroke had affected his speech and ability to swallow food, he was progressively getting weaker and complications set in until he was moved back to the hospital where the doctors told us that basically they could not do anything else for him. We moved him to a Hospice Center in the Washington area a week from this past Tuesday, a beautiful and peaceful place.
Since all my siblings and their families were in town to visit my Father and to comfort my Mother, this past Saturday morning, I made two batches of dough for a family dinner. One was a white flour Baguette dough with liquid levain and the other was a high extraction Pain de Campagne dough with liquid levain, both intended for overnight cold retardation and baking on Sunday. The doughs had just gone through partial bulk fermentation and were put in the refrigerator in the early afternoon. We headed to the Hospice Center to spend the afternoon with my Father but upon arrival, learned that he had just slipped away peacefully. He was 91 years-old.
The next 3 days were a blurr with so many things to attend to. The funeral and cremation occurred on Tuesday July 20. It was preceded by a heart-warming Buddhist Ceremony and gathering of many Relatives and Friends.
Yesterday, we finally had a day to wind down when I realized that the doughs after three and a half days were still sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be baked. They had tripled in size and the high extraction dough had rendered some liquid. Since we had planned a Family Dinner yesterday evening, I decided to go ahead and bake them anyway and share them with my Family in memory of my Father.
The doughs had become very extensible to the point of becoming limp. As my head was still preoccupied with so many thoughts, by mistake, I baked the high extraction dough as Baguettes and the white dough as a Batard.
The Baguettes did not have the usual oven spring but the taste was surprisingly sweet and nutty. The crumb was a little bit denser but not overly tangy in spite of the extensive retardation. The Batard had much better oven spring and the crumb was open, slightly chewy and again not overly sour. We enjoyed them with a perfectly ripe Camembert and toasted to the memory of my Dear Father and Mentor, the man who taught me so much about the enjoyment of good food and wines.