Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I'm a breadbaking fool, living in a nation filled with bread. To justify my madness, sometimes I just gotta give it away. It's nice to get feedback in the form of deep moans, grunts, lip smacking and chewing sounds. I also like the blurted out "you made this?" That one always gets me. But enough said.......

It was my friend M and his mention of a Fermented Food Feast that would benefit City Slicker Farms here in Oaktown that was the recent reason for a big give away. So, I spent a few days building up the starters to mammoth amounts and then commenced doughing. From left to right in my kitchen, the morning of the event.......

Let's see here. That's two 1/4 whole wheat, free form loaves doing their final rising under the glass bowls. Well, the one on the right should be. Oh, and three sheets of english muffins rising in anticipation of the griddle. These will turn out being part of Shuna's birthday present and represent batch number two of the day.

Over here we have one huge bowl of sourdough starter. It was fed recently and is not yet looking like a madly bubbling cauldron of chalky goo. That will come soon enough. The jugs are soon to be 1.5 gallons of starter for give-away. The red bowl and mostly hidden green covered casserole are focaccia doughs doing their first rise. 1/4 whole wheat and an herbed all white version respectively. The glass bowl contains a free form white sourdough loaf.

Damn, like will it end? How about two all white baguettes in my favorite loaf pan. The tub of muffins is from round one earlier. The bags of flour are empty for now but will contain muffin give-away six packs. Turning further to the right and taking another picture revealed the dirty dishes and my filthy floured self, so I'm stopping there with the kitchen tour.

I took advantage of some afternoon light to take a picture of what came out of the oven. I especially like the golden hues on the crust. It made me think of the spring currently popping out in the desert and how I'm missing it. Content with the loaves, I packed them in the car with the other goodies and made my way down to the party.

To round out the yeast gift, I included a three pack of fermented apple cider. Two of them were from farmers' market produce, the third from store bought for comparisons sake. All of them are equally dry and bubbly. Not exactly a wild fermented item like much of the other items at the fundraiser, including the sourdoughs, but I figured everyone like a little hooch. All in all I was very pleased with my output and proud of my wares. Looking at it now, it appears like a photo of my yeast repertoire.

The following day I still had a quart or so of active starter and I just couldn't see it go to waste. Those poor little cultures of bacteria and molds needed my help. They needed to go out burning up feeding my family. I made up a huge batch of herbed foacaccia, cornmeal laden pizza dough, and a sourdough version of Tea's Russian Black Bread. It was another few rounds of mincing, mixing and kneading but most of the time I couldn't be happier doing anything else.

The pizza dough worked out very nice for pesto with mushroom and jack cheese calzones. The black bread formed a nice dense looking brown bomb. It smelled of absolute delight before baking. During, I almost tore off a piece to burn the shit out of my mouth with.......and then thought better about it and decided to preserve my taste buds for enjoying it for the next few days. I started thinking of how it would pair with salmon and cream cheese.

So if this looks good to anyone out there, and you have a sourdough and a hankering for a nice earthy dark rye loaf, well then feed the starter and get some ingredients because this one will become an instant favorite. Dark, molasses, rye and yum. Just add some fish and cow extract and you're in business.

Thanks for the recipe Tea! I'll go ahead and add my own, scaled down sourdough version of it, based on what was in the house if anyone feels like playing around with it. Enjoy!


make 1 cup of strong ass coffee with a moka pot or espresso maker.
drink half, you'll need it.
in a large bowl add:
1/4 c molasses
3 T butter
2 T cocoa powder
nuke it, or heat it up in a pan and transfer back into the bowl. add 1 T apple cider vinegar and the remaining half of your coffee. when this is just warm or near room temperature add about 2 cups of sourdough starter.
in another big bowl add:
2 c rye flour
2 c all purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c cornmeal
2 t salt and give it a mix
add bowl of mixed flours to the dark liquid starter combo bowl or vise versa, depending on whichever bowl is big enough to contain the flour you will inevitably start throwing everywhere while mixing it up. make a huge mess until the dough comes together, then knead it for about five minutes. then let it rest a bit. let yourself rest a bit too. maybe make yourself more of that coffee or crack open a nice dark beer. maybe a homebrew.
when you feel like it, mince up:
3 T of onion
then measure out:
1.5 T caraway seeds
1/2 t of fennel
incorporate these into the dough and knead for about five more minutes or until the dough is nice and smooth.
let rise in a well oiled bowl in a fairly warm spot and punch down when doubled.
form into a large round and let rise (I do mine on parchment paper) until nearly doubled.
place onto a pre-heated baking stone at 475 degrees for about twenty minutes, making sure to turn halfway through. if bread ain't sounding hollow yet, take off the stone and bake at 425 degrees for another 5-10 minutes.
wait until it's most the way cool and then eat it for the next two days with just about anything, like butter, fish, beer, cheese, chutney, coffee, air...........


K & S said...

man, I wish we lived closer, the combination of your bread and my mom's guava jellies would be out of this world!

Mimi said...

Have I ever told you how much I love you?!? I was salivating over Tea's black bread a few days ago and I wanted to make it but I wasn't ready to try to figure out how to convert it to sourdough. I come over here and the work is all done for me!! Yea!!!!!
Wow, you must have been tired after all of that baking! Everything looks great!
I don't think I have been in such awe of your baking prowess since you made pizza in the mountains.

Anonymous said...

YUM! I was lucky enough to receive a slab of this amazing, delicious black bread. And adding to my good forture, I had in my frig some fromage blanc from Cowgirl Creamery and some smoked salmon from Hudson Fish. My breakfast was fantastic. I am a grateful, happy girl!

I love my brother. Thanks, Bro.

Monkey Wrangler said...

Kat: Ditto on that girlfriend! The jam/bread combo sounds great! The next time my family and I are in the Islands I'll give you a shout to see if you're around......

Mimi: Wow, like, uh, Thanks! Let me know how it works out for you. But heed warning, you will want to eat a lot of this bread.

Sis: Like yo, cool! You'll get at least another quarter of the next loaf.