02 August 2010
Yesterday was Lammas, Lughnasadh, or Loaf Mass Day. Pick your name; it's all the same. Simply put, it is a day to celebrate the grain harvest. Last night, the kids and I made my beloved Struan bread. It contains wheat bran, rolled oats, polenta, and rice, so that covers a lot of appreciated grains. We mixed and kneaded by hand, which is the most rewarding method of bread making. The dough starts off sloppy and kind of chunky. You start to wonder if you did this right, even though you've made the same recipe for years. Then, as if by magic, it becomes bouncy, smooth, and even. You really just want to snuggle with it.
It only gets better with the rises. The honey aroma becomes more pronounced, and sometimes you can actually hear the gases swelling inside. I actually did a happy dance as I formed the dough into loaves, anticipating the scent of baking bread that would soon fill the room. There aren't many scents that match it.
Next to handling dough, my favorite part of baking is thumping loaves to ensure they are ready to be pulled. Testing readiness by sound is kind of silly. Sometimes I feel like a tuner, plucking the piano's strings. After baking comes the hardest part, waiting. The bread continues to bake for awhile, allowing the crust to achieve perfect, well, crustiness. The reward for your patience is great. Fresh, hot bread is amazing. Orgasmic even. Whoever started the term "foodgasm" surely thought of it while nomming on freshly baked bread.
This bread is hardy yet light. Sweet and nutty. Bright and rich. It's great for rolls, sandwiches, toast, and of course noshing. I adore this bread, and it will forever be special to me.