Back to basics: baking

Food is a pleasure. Baking is a pleasure. Life is too short to give up pleasant things. I recently was trying to eat oddly following a “diet book” and it was making me very unhappy. I am reading a book on French home cooking where food and meals are pleasurable and sacred experiences. This is what I would like to experience in my home. It is not about the intricacies of the recipe but the love and care and nurture in the process of making a meal.

The weather is cooling down so using the oven will be less oppressive than in the middle of summer. Bread baking season is here. I inventory my pantry and find that I have various flours including gluten free and gluten free baking mix. These are remnants of the “odd” eating plan. No one in the family has to do away with gluten but there it is in my pantry. I now have cinnamon and espresso powder and dark chocolate chips. I have whole wheat, pastry wheat, all-purpose, potato, and white wheat flour. I have about a cup of cornmeal and fancy pure vanilla extract.

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I plan to make the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes (Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François book, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”) and keep a tub in my fridge. I will also try out some of the recipes from King Arthur Flour. In fact I might as well bake through the King Arthur Flour  200th Anniversary Cookbook from KAF that I just purchased. Granted, it is the 225th anniversary for KAF but I got this book when I used the coupon they offered for entering their contest. It may be 25 years old but it is new to me. I don’t think it is practical to bake every recipe in the book. I will choose a recipe from each category and chapter. My sister had the idea a year or so ago of cooking through one of many cookbooks. She worked on it but I had too many to choose from and never made a selection. Let’s see how far I get with this one.

Let’s start with the ripe bananas in my kitchen. Banana bread or muffins sounds fine. Somehow I open up the KAF book to the Whole Wheat section and there is a lovely banana bread recipe using buttermilk, molasses, and whole wheat flour and cornmeal. I had bought an extra jar of molasses because I did not realize it was “extra”; I have a quart of buttermilk in the fridge and realize there is only so much buttermilk ranch dressing one can make. And cornmeal sounds healthy anyway.

baking 001Mise en place. Gather all ingredients and equipment. I am baking Whole Wheat Cornmeal Molasses Banana Bread.

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Baking through a cookbook does not mean having to start from the beginning and go in order. This recipe is on page 501. This is a hearty bread which didn’t rise much at all even though it had both baking soda and baking powder. I will share it with my colleagues at work and see what they think. Hubby liked it with butter and jam.

Next it will be on to something chocolate. Do you say chok-lit or chalk-o-lot?

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