Bread!

tassajaryum
For the first time in – I can’t even remember – years? I got up this morning and felt like making bread. I used to make bread a lot – around the time Lily was a wee baby. I can distinctly remember patting a very tiny Lil to sleep in her cot one night in a sleep-deprived daze only to realise after a few minutes that I was gently kneading her like a loaf of bread. But life gets busier and bread, while it takes little effort, does require you to be around the house for a chunk of hours so that you can return to your dough after each rising to whup it into shape some more. But today was wet and cold and we had absolutely *nothing* on the agenda – no playdates, no expected guests (so no cleaning), no shopping, no anything by popular demand… so time I had.

The girls were completely absorbed in a complicated make-believe game of teachers and babies and school photos and what-not so I cracked open my copy of the Tassajara Bread book which I bought late last year after reading Amanda’s recommendation.

tassajarabook

Here is the Tassajara Bread Book, sitting victoriously on top of The River Cottage Cookbook, whose bread recipe I usually use. I have a soft spot for the Tassajara cookbooks because one of my first cooky books in my collection was this one:

tassajaraveg

My Mum’s old hippy copy of  Tassajara Cooking which contains awesome line drawings of vegetables

tassajaradude

and this fabulous picture of author Edward Espe Brown (and unnamed woman and child), who still teaches zen baking at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Centre (have you seen How to Cook Your Life which Amanda also recommended some time ago? A much older and hairier Edward Brown is the subject of the doco.)

tassajaradough

So I made the “sponge” and it was crazy and sticky and I am sorry to say that I had very little faith in all of this at this point because it just seemed way too wet, but I left it to rise, and when I peeked under my damp tea towel after about thirty minutes it looked like an enourmous frothy milk shake. When you see yeast work so thoroughly, you get pretty enthused. And the rest of it worked like a charm.

It certainly isn’t a quick loaf, but boy is it a good one. Light and tasty and all gone in the blink of an eye. We devoured an entire loaf with butter for afternoon tea after returning from the library. (I borrowed Stephen King’s “On Writing” – thanks for the many recommendations!)

I made the “basic” recipe today and I am keen to try more of the numerous variations and then move on to the pastry chapter. Mmm.