I LOVE BREAD. No matter how you slice it, rip it, soak it, toast it, or slather it. Sure there are some that are a little lower on my scale than others, sourdough - I'm looking at you. But for the most part, it is a miracle of nature that I am happy to partake.
Every country, and every group of people on Earth have some form of bread. We have sayings that revolve around it. Industries built around it. Diets banning it. Clubs devoted to it. Whole isles of the supermarket dedicated to it. It isn't the staff of life for nothing.
I've become much better over the years. Sure, I crave it, but I behave myself. But come this time of year (after the fresh picked apple cravings have passed), the reduced hours of daylight and the cooler air, kick in some primal need to load up on energy giving carbohydrates. Sometimes, you just have to give into your ancient Neanderthal bread shop owner urges and bake yourself a loaf of bread.
My favorite breads are those that fight back, a more technical term would be breads with 'chew'. White, squishy flavorless American supermarket bread isn't even on my radar unless I'm in the mood for a smashed peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then there is the other end of the spectrum, the super health nut, all grain, pebbles, and sunshine. These loaves are usually gratuitously full of chunks that purport health, but somehow seem to manage to be void of both flavor and moisture. I enjoy hearty, chewy breads, preferably with a crispy crust that "speaks" as it cools. Sandwich loaves should have a flavor array that can both stand on its own and support the fillings.
I have a collection of community cookbooks that are loaded with time honored traditional recipes, like angel biscuits, and "mom's" best potluck rolls. As technology advanced, I've slid over to the unfathomably large number of cooking and baking sites, some dedicated to everything - some only to breads.
Usually the recipes found on these sites are nothing more than a passing fancy in my baking world. They either take far too much effort and time for what you get out of them, or they require some odd, hard to find, ingredient that makes the whole project... well... a project. As you can plainly see from this blog, I don't have time for things that take TOO much time. I certainly do NOT need more projects. What I do need are reliable, repeatable great recipes that make the work I need to accomplish in the kitchen fast and fabulous.
I have my normal recipes which are as comfortable as an old pair of sneakers or well beloved jeans- Italian, pizza dough, Bavarian pretzels, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, buttermilk biscuits, and garlic monkey bread. And I have some that are newer to my world, but will quickly become memorized old friends- chocolate chunk bread, pumpernickel rye, honey whole wheat, milk bread, and oatmeal.
On afternoon I was looking for my copy of a well worn recipe in my great, old, scribbled, cookbook. When I couldn't find it, I did what every one else does. I hollered "OK GOOGLE." Where upon realizing that my husband and child do not respond to that, nor does my phone when it is in the car, nor is it a nifty new swear word, I was forced to actually FIND an electronic device and open it.
I Googled the old recipe from the 50s as best as I could remember, and stumbled on something wonderful. It was a site that wasn't just a post any old untested, untrue recipe that they came across to fill some need to burn 1s and 0s and draw viewers for advertising points. No, this was an honest to goodness, site that was not only filled with amazing breads, but whose owner was wholly (if not holy) invested in both the ease of preparation, and consistent quality of the product.
I, with your gracious indulgence, present Fr. Dominic Garramone - better known on the internet as The BREAD MONK.
His version of Honey Oatmeal bread is amazing and pairs really well with ham and turkey.
The Chocolate Chunk is a remarkable thing! We like it cold, we like it toasted with a light smear of peanut butter. It has am amazing side feature. It makes the MOST amazing plain bread! Simply leave out the cocoa and chocolate chunks. I like to add a handful of my flaxseed mix - white and brown flax, sesame seeds, rosemary, granulated garlic and a pinch of salt. You know that bread you get at restaurants that you dip in the olive oil with all the fragrant herbs mixed in? Yup, it tastes just like that!
The American Pizza Crust does amazing things on a pizza stone or in a wood fire oven. Rolled thin, Brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with the flax mix and then served cold with fresh butter....droooool!
His site also has many tutorial videos for those that are still learning too!
So should you get the hankering for some great bread this week, mosey on over to his site and find something that tickles your fancy!