Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Continuing Affair

Rosemary Potato Bread
My love affair with bread started in high school, when my biology teacher, Ms. Quinn (bless her heart!), decided that since we were studying microorganisms, yeast being among them, our homework for the next day would be to bake some sort of yeasted bread by hand--no bread machines, no stand mixers, just good old-fashioned muscle. Now, to this day, I'm not entirely clear on what the value of this experience was as far as biology went, but I was thrilled with the process, craft, and feeling of it all--I loved the way that the plush dough squished beneath my palms, the yeasty aroma of the dough after proofing, the transformation that happened in the blaze of the oven. I baked regularly through my senior year of high school, supplementing my school lunches with crusty slices of French bread and wedges of focaccia. I couldn't get over just how good fresh bread was.
And to this day, I still can't. I bake at least a loaf a week, usually two. It helps that grad-student life is very amenable to the rhythms of regular bread baking. I can start a loaf in the morning, read an article or two while it's proofing, de-gas and shape it, read some more, bake it, and then read until I can't wait any longer to cut into it. I lead a charmed life, I know. (Hah).
Poached egg
My favourite bread as of late is the Potato-Rosemary Bread from Peter Reinhart's BBA. While it baked, the kitchen smelled irresistibly lemony and sweet. And fresh from the oven, it was plush and herbal on the inside, crusty and golden on the outside. It makes for lovely toast in the morning, and I imagine that it would be sublime with a generous smear of lemon curd--Meyer lemon season, after all, is almost upon us. And, still thinking wistfully of summer barbecues, I'm sure that divided into smaller rounds, this bread would make great burger buns. A bread for all seasons.

Find the recipe with Deb at Smitten Kitchen.

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