Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How to taste bread


 My friend's father was a baker.  I love how she describes the way he tasted bread.

"He would look at it, touch it, smell it, and then taste it... then look at it again," she said, tilting her head back the way he probably did, contemplative.  She had a serious look about her, considering the bread, lost in remembrance.

I could feel her longing for her father, but she seemed comforted, talking about him while she tasted a slice of my freshly baked loaf.  It reminded me of watching my mother adeptly forming rolls or a braided bread.  Or how as kids she took us in our pajamas to the Rockland Bakery in the wee hours because that was how much she loved their bread. Those details about a person that we hope remain engraved somewhere permanent.  And as for the bread, perhaps it helps us hold on.


Rosemary Boule
Makes one loaf. It is excellent as toast on the second and third day.

¾ cup water
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
cornmeal for dusting the pan

Combine ¾ cup warm water with 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast and one teaspoon of sugar.
Allow to proof for several minutes.
Measure 2 cups all-purpose flour into a mixing bowl, along with 1 teaspoon of fine salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of crumbled, dried rosemary.  Stir to combine.  
Add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon.
Turn this out onto a clean but floured countertop and knead for 3-4 minutes, adding in additional flour as needed until the dough is not too sticky but not too firm.  
Oil the same mixing bowl with olive oil and put the dough in the bowl to rise, covered with a dish towel, for about an hour.
Punch down the dough.  If you have a banneton, you can use it for the second rising, also an hour.  Without a banneton, form the dough into a round loaf and let it rise on a baking sheet coated with corn meal.
Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  The loaf is done when it sounds hollow when tapping on the bottom.
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