The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Time flies --- but somehow bread still gets baked...

IceDemeter's picture

Time flies --- but somehow bread still gets baked...

It's been a crazy month of chores at the farms, a couple of multi-day cross-country trips for family events, an unexpected minor surgery, and all of the usual stuff that we all deal with.  As we all know, there truly are not enough hours in the day, and sometimes something just has to be neglected...

Well - since home-baked sourdough breads have become a critical part of our nourishment for both body and mind, what had to go was internet time, along with posting and blogging, and even really keeping track of the bakes (other than the usual tracking of formulae and notes).  I managed to get at least one "daily bread" loaf made each week, with even some multiple bakes in there to bring to family events, and some successful and some not-pretty-but-still-tasty attempts at enriched / sweet style breads.

My NMNF rye starter has been charging happily along after the issues that apparently were caused by excessive minerals/chlorine in the water, I've got a durum version chugging along, too, and I've been starting / retarding / continuing / retarding the levains and the doughs quite randomly to fit in to what time I had at home.  It's been a bit of a revelation for me just how forgiving and accommodating our naturally leavened formulae can be, and how "successful" any number of mixed up techniques and timing will be (with "successful" being defined as "delicious and nutritious bread that I will go out of my way to eat" --- and doesn't necessarily include a pretty appearance or a photogenic wildly open crumb).

My "daily bread" right now is either a straight-forward 1-2-3 loaf at 50% or 60% whole grain (rye / spelt / random other grain), a Mini Oven's formula 100% rye, or a 100% whole grain porridge pan bread that I came up with that is a mix of different wheat types (hard red / soft white / red fife / durum / spelt / kamut) with a porridge of  wheat germ, oat bran, millet, rolled oats, rye flakes, and barley flakes that are toasted and then cooked in milk.  The levains end up built in one or two or three feeds (depending on what it looks like I can fit in) and are retarded in the fridge right after they double on the final feed (or sometimes in between feeds) and sit there until I'm ready.  I've had weeks where I've done everything from autolyse to baked in a day, and other times when it's taken 3 days to get from first mix to baked.  While there is a lot of science behind how things work, it's fascinating to me that so many variables can be successfully changed just by "watching the dough" and remembering that the fridge is your friend!

A few pics that did get snapped along the way, of starting the porridge and mixing the flours for the 100% whole wheat (love how all of the different strains have such different colours and textures!) and the 1-2-3 with kamut that got baked that same day:

A pumpernickel that rose way more than I expected in the oven (causing it to be dented from the foil I had sealing it in) and that was so soft when it came out that the cooling rack dented it (but it still tasted wonderful):

A busy bake day that all went out to my in-laws' place (enriched sourdough sweet dough made in to dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, apricot / apple / almond rolls, and Earl-Grey-tea-steeped figs / apricots / prune rolls, along with a 60% whole grain 1-2-3 loaf that was insanely active and which I ended up stretching out and re-shaping twice before it hit the oven:

There was also a 100% rye and another of the 100% WW pan loaves that went with these, and I got a fine compliment from an ex-pat German lady who was there visiting --- who told me that the one thing she most missed from home was the good rye breads and that this one was the first one in over a decade that "tasted like home".

It's looking like things will hopefully be settling down for a bit, so I can catch up with all of the great stuff that you all have been doing.  I've got the levains already built and in the fridge for a few loaves this week, and am ridiculously full of confidence that the dough will forgive me spending a bit of time relaxing  on line...

Keep baking happy!


Danni3ll3's picture

Life does have a way of getting in the way of posting! I seem to be in a baking and posting slump too. Outside chores, like planting 40 planters for the deck and yard, taking a cheese making course, dog shows,  and other things have gotten in the way of my bread baking and pottery. I have also decided that there is way too much stuff in this house and we need to do a major weeding. So I have a feeling my baking activities are going to be haphazard this summer. I will just have to drool over the bread everyone else is making. 

IceDemeter's picture

I'm afraid that my planters are another thing that got ruthlessly cut from the schedule last month.  I'll be lucky to get in a few heritage tomato plants (that I'll kidnap from my sister-in-law) next week.  I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I'm a bit gleeful about not having a massively busy garden harvest hanging over my head this fall, though!

I envy you the cheese-making course (hmm, will have to look for one around here), but will just enjoy your stories of the dog shows (what kind of fuzzy butts?  inquiring minds need to know!).  We just don't have the right lifestyle to suit having a dog, so I borrow my neighbours' pit / rottie crosses (massive lap dogs) when I need a puppy fix.

It seems so funny that we all used to look at retired folks and think about how bored they must be with all of that time on their hands, but all of the retired folks who I know now can't figure out how we used to fit working in to our incredibly busy schedules...

I hope that your brother is recovering well, and that you are all enjoying good health while puttering away at all of the chores!  Hopefully you've got a few "daily bread" simple, delicious, and relaxing bakes that you can enjoy slotting in to the schedule until you have more time to tempt us with your usual fancy-schmancy intricate formulae!

All the best to you and yours!

Danni3ll3's picture

Uh no! Ha ha! Lots of things to do or try, but often not enough time. There would probably be if I stepped up the pace but I did that for 31 years so now, I do it when I feel like it. 

As to those furry creatures that end up in the show ring, they were Shelties for the last 30 years but my daughter decided she wanted a big dog, so she got a golden retriever. So we are learning all about grooming and showing goldens. I can do that with my eyes closed for a Sheltie, but a golden is a whole different kettle of fish. I call him Blondie or "the big blond thing", especially when he does bad doggie things like eat the pond liner for the second winter in a row. My daughter isn't too impressed when I do that. His name is Copper which I often change to Cooperroo. Ha ha! I preferred Cooper to Copper but I didn't win that battle and he is her dog!

Anyhow, even with us stumbling through the grooming, he has managed to get 6 points so far. He needs 10 to be a champion. The breeder is amazing and is a wonderful support to us. Right now we need to get a bit of weight off and get him toned up. Neither one of us can run very far which is what he needs so she has been trying to get him on the treadmill. That is definitely a work in progress. We could gait him on a bike but he is so big that if he decides to misbehave, you know who is going to do a face plant!

As to my brother, there hasn't been any changes to his vision. I was really hoping that it would improve over time but it may not happen. He is looking at it as if this is permanent and if there is improvement, then it's a bonus. His driver's license was pulled so that is a huge thing. He has to demonstrate that he has adapted to the loss of his left peripheral vision before the doctor will sign off on it. Then he has to jump through all the ministry of transportation hoops and get some special dispensation to get his license back. That may never happen as well. :-( This is a super independent person who travels the world so that has to be a huge thing for him. I know when I couldn't drive for a month after a surgery, it drove me nuts to depend on others. 

And he has one more medical thing to go through as well. Friday, they are going to check to see if all the blood clots in his heart have dissolved and then they will do a cardioversion to get his heart back into a normal sinus rhythm. Hopefully that will help with the fatigue he has been experiencing. 

He plans to go back to the classroom in September but that will also depend on how he is feeling. I told him not to rush back. He has decided to give up the vice principalship for now until his health is sorted out. I think that was a good move on his part as the teachers union will probably give him more protection than depending on the good will of the board. 

Whoops, I didn't mean to write s book but that's where we are in all of this. 

IceDemeter's picture

certainly not a book!

The only thing that I know about Shelties is that they are adorable, and look like they'd need a ton of work with that coat, so I'm betting that you are highly familiar with finding tons of time in your schedule for doing doggie hairstyling!  I've spent a lot more time with Golden's (pretty, goofy, ridiculously affectionate blockheads) and can understand your daughter wanting one, but I've only dealt with working dogs and not showdogs.  Seriously - you've got Lake Superior and a retriever bred for swimming, so skip the treadmill and get that beastie in to the water!  He'll be more than happy to keep swimming until the water is totally frozen over, and doing water retrievals is way less work for the human than running with him would be...

My favourite Golden experience was with my brother's massive beast (Ginger), who was only happy when she had a stuffie to carry in her mouth.  Her favourite was a huge stuffed chicken, and you knew that you were one of her "chosen ones" if she brought it to you to say hello.  She got all excited one summer when a retarded bunny decided to frequently use a short-cut through the back yard, and she got to chase it at least once a day.  She finally managed to catch the stupid thing one day when we were visiting on the back deck --- and so we all got to see her stop the bunny with one of her massive paws, and then bop it on the head with the stuffed chicken...  So pretty --- but not so bright.

It will be hard for your brother to get used to his "new normal", but kudos to him for having the uncommon good sense to voluntarily step down and not wait to be forced out (or, worse, ruining his health even more by trying to do far more than he really is able to yet).  As a person who used to drive at least 60,000 km per year (my sales territory was from Thunder Bay to the BC border - and in to Cranbrook, actually) and who is now in early retirement due to medical reasons and has major limitations on driving, I can definitely relate to the shock of being "let down" by your body and having to learn a whole new approach to just about everything.  Honestly, his attitude of accepting the limitations as likely permanent is the best possible approach, and will give him the biggest push to find new ways of doing all of the things that he wants to do.  It'll take time, and patience from the whole clan as you all work through the grieving process at the loss of his "old" self, but it sounds like you are all on the right path to get there.

Here's to a grand summer of doing things that we want to do, at the pace that we want to set, and actually enjoying all of our "normal" and maybe-not-so-normal days!


dabrownman's picture

and said I was not allowed to post comments and now it is in the ether.  Al  I can remember is that it was a funny long one so here it is again in a shorter version.  I remember Lucy saying she doesn't like surprise, unexpected surgeries even if minor and I have to agree with her.  Glad to see you are back to baking happily away anyway.  All the bread looks grand.  I feel exactly the same way about bread as you do.  It is pretty compliant and easily made more so with slapping it around and cooling its jets in the fridge so it doesn't run away with itself to who knows where you don't want to know

Keep baking happily away ID!

IceDemeter's picture

I'm sorry to hear that the long version got lost in the ether - I always enjoy your view on the world, short version or long.  Surprise surgeries are merely inconveniences when they actually fix things (it's the things that need to be fixed that are really annoying) --- and I got the all-clear from my surgeon this morning, so all is well.

As for the slapping the dough around - well, I usually go more for the zen of gentle kneading in the bowl, but "had a mood" a couple of weeks ago, along with a very uncooperative wet dough, and figured I'd give the slap 'er around method a try before just flinging the soggy mess out the window in frustration.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it makes a most satisfyingly violent workout (physically and emotionally), and also manages to turn a sloppy mess in to a somewhat recognizable dough!  Well, really, who knew??

I'm planning a nice, relaxing mixing day tomorrow, but might just throw in a few slap 'n tickles just because...  that dough needs to know who's boss, right?

I hope you and all of your ladies are keeping as cool as possible - and aren't all cooking along with your breads.  I'd hate to miss one of your great bakes and blogs, so am most very glad that you are set up with the mini oven to keep baking happy, even in the heat!

Take care, and cuddles and scritches to the beauteous fuzzy butt!

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I love your combinations of flours and grains. I make one bread that has a bit of everything in it too and I often wonder why - I'm sure I couldn't pick any particular flavour or characteristic out of all that! I had to change the font on the label, just to be able to fit it all in. :)

Re the soupy 'dough' - see my blog post from today. I didn't even try to slap this one around. I really hate scraping dough off my hands (and everything else) and didn't want to spackle the kitchen as it's not ours, so I just folded it in the bowl with a rubber scraper and then put it in the fridge and ignored it for a bit. Turned out to be good bread, actually (as they do). I wonder if it would have turned out better / different if I had persevered and done 20 minutes of vigorous slap and fold? Baking it in a casserole dish at least meant I didn't have to actually shape it.

I know totally what you and Danni mean about no time available in retirement. I've got a bit of a garden in but it's sort of haphazard. When I get a minute I go outside and throw some seeds into any available soil (i.e. soil that has been more or less worked and weeded) and if they grow, they grow. I'll deal with the harvest when I can. I didn't manage to get the netting over the cherry tree repaired this year so the raccoons demolished every cherry on the tree (and many of the branches and leaves too) even before the cherries were pink. Stupid creatures. Maybe I should have a dog too, but that's just one thing too many for me to cope with in my 'retirement'! Keeping up with the grandson is about it.

I suppose I would have more time for things if I hadn't decided in my wisdom that I need to bake for the whole community. Baking enough bread for us (the two of us and immediate family) would occupy me for only a short amount of time during the week and then I'd have to find something else to make me busy again, so of course I commit to 50 or 60 loaves a week (at least during the summer when I support a tiny neighbourhood 'farm' market as well as my own customers). But it keeps me happy, as does communing with the fabulous bunch of bread geeks (who understand me and my obsession) on this site!

IceDemeter's picture

Apparently the whole "retirement" thing is a scam, isn't it?!  I don't know anyone who hasn't ended up being super busy with either doing a pile of voluntary work (for friends and family, if not for official organizations), or with some kind of hobby that took off and became a business.  The old saying that "a change is as good as a rest" has a lot more truth to it than I would have suspected - and at least we get to choose the "busy" that we enjoy the most!

I have to say that your posts about your business and your approach always make me smile.  I am too new to baking and don't have the skills to justify thinking about working with it, but I've always looked at those who took a hobby that they loved and made it in to a business and wondered if they didn't end up no longer loving it, since it was now a "job" and not a "joy".  It seems like you still manage to keep the "joy" in it --- and your posts about it are a huge source of encouragement to anyone who might want to try it in the future.

It really is important to keep the baking - and the rest of life - happy!