“A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and Thou / Beside me singing in the wilderness.”
There are many things from my college English classes that I’ve forgotten, but for some reason, this quote always sticks in my mind. Now to be fair, I never can remember where it comes from. But, hey! that’s what Google is for. (In case you’re interested, it’s from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, translated by Edward FitzGerald.)
The reason that it stays with me is pretty evident. I love bread. I mean, I LOVE bread. As in, I would rather have a good slice of bread than chocolate or ice cream.
So when I got a book for Christmas called Flour Water Salt Yeast (thanks, Aunt Care and Uncle Kim!), I was super excited to try making bread with simple, basic, quality ingredients. Part of the reason that I’ve become obsessed with baking my own bread is that I’m able to control what goes into it. (The other part is that it just tastes better than mass-produced, store-bought bread.)
I cannot say enough good things about this book. The author, Ken Forkish, treats bread baking like a cross between a religion and a science project. The passion he has for good ingredients and developing flavors in the bread is awesome. He talks about knowing where our food comes from, and taking the time to make our food the best it can be.
I’ve tried a couple of his recipes since getting the book, and it is some of the best bread I have ever eaten. Certainly, it’s the best bread I’ve ever cooked! Now, the recipes look complex at first, but really it’s not. However, it does take time and attention. Friday night I started the Overnight White Bread (you mix the dough and let it proof overnight, than the next morning, shape the loaves, proof them again and bake – in a dutch oven!).
The bread comes out of the oven in beautiful round loaves, full of nooks and crannies with a dark, crisp crust. Fabulous!