Here and There

Friday, November 10, 2006

Making Cinnamon Swirl Bread...


This morning I woke up early and thought "I want to make something that has yeast in it." I can make pizza dough with yeast, and I have made bread once or twice, but I don't feel super confident about it. With a little extra time this morning, I thought I'd give it a try.

So I pulled out a little book called Baking for Gift Giving, which I recieved for Christmas when we spent the holiday in Colorado. First Christmas after grandma died, we needed space from how different it would feel I guess. I know we opened all our presents before we left, but mom must have picked this little book up at a shop in one of those little stores with these kinds of books, potpourri, candles and satchets...you know, those highly scented stores. She gave it to me there on Christmas Day.

It had the only recipe that allowed for the kinds of milks I had on hand. Which happened today to be evaporated and 1%.

I set to work and came upon the instruction to scald the milks. Now, I've scalded milk before, but for some reason I couldn't remember if there was some sort of important detail I was forgetting. Is it supposed to smell "scalded"? Am I supposed to do it over high heat, or low heat or medium heat? Little bubbles, big bubbles? I think in most recipes nowadays, the word scalded is left out and the cook is directed to "heat the milk until small bubbles form around the edges" which is technically scalding...

Anyway, quickly I ran to get The Joy of Cooking, thinking there would be a simple definition so I could feel confident and move on. There was, a simple little definition that allowed me to proceed. After I kneaded and put the dough in the bowl, covered it with a seasonally appropriate dishtowel (brown, with turkeys), I read The Joy of Cooking recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread. It was a variation of the basic white bread recipe. In this recipe was a lovely little quote:

White Bread
Wrote Louis Untermeyer:
"Why has our poetry eschewed
The rapture and response of food?
What hymns are sung, what praises said
To home-made miracles of bread?"

Even more constructive than versification, perhaps, are the recipes which follow: home-baked bread, in our view, can best be celebrated by repetition.

I loved this. This represented my whole goal for the day, making something I want to get better at. Using repetition to improve, and then to simply satisfy.

My favorite part of making bread is putting that dishtowel over it. I like choosing the lucky dishtowel, clean and smooth-- just having that bowl with a dishtowel over it means bread getting ready.

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