Inspiration pops her beautiful face up just about everywhere you go. In my case it's usually sparked from a craving, a glass serving dish, a pot, a recipe, a food item, or in this case, a tweet. Each Monday, the L.A. Times Food section asks followers of their Twitter feed to tweet pictures of their #weekendeats. Be it pork belly sandwiches, Star Wars cookies, or cascading beers, followers use the hashtag to share their tasty treat pics and if the L.A.Times is diggin' what you shared, they will retweet the pic and idea to their 344 000 + followers.
One of the retweets this morning was a pic of Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes posted by the blogger from Edible Life in YYC. I thought the idea was fantastic and well deserving of an homage. Plus I love pancakes.
I feel like a lone soldier baking my way through Tartine No. 3, the latest book released by the co-chef and co-owner of Tartine Bakery in San Fransisco, Chad Robertson.
The Tartine method of making naturally leavened breads requires very moist dough and a long fermentation period. I've had success with a few recipes from the second book, Tartine Bread, but these new recipes with even wetter doughs and less glutenous flours is really pushing the loaf.
In this day and age of information sharing, I find it very surprising to find a lack of chatter from homebakers and chefs regarding the recipes from the book. This book was two years in the making and its release was well anticipated but besides a few sites promoting one or two recipes just before the launch, the intertubes are mostly quiet about Tartine No. 3. (I'm job hunting and have had time to sift through the bread baking forums, a lot.) And that is why I feel like a lone soldier - not all the recipes are clear on the specific ingredients and there isn't anyone with insider insight to steer me in the correct direction.
After baking no less than 5 challenging batches of breads from this cookbook that focuses on using more whole grains and flours in its recipes, I needed to attempt something I knew I could achieve in order to save my baking-esteem: cookies. Break making isn't my forte but cookies - now that's something I can champion. Sure, the quantity of cookies didn't match (original recipe says 5 dozen, I got 23) and I needed to add a few tablespoons of water to the dough to bring it together, but I happily ate cookies for lunch today and I no longer feel alone.
Like many people, I struggle to find my place in the world. I am, at time, my own worst enemy and fiercest critic. But I also am most my loyal comforter, my own soul sister.
As I mature, I learn. That's pretty much what I have always done and I see no reason to ever alter that pattern. Why would I want to go to cheese making school? To learn, of course! There is only so much I can soak in from Youtube, Google, Chapters, and the library and I learn by watching, listening, doing, and most importantly - sharing. We all have our limitations to what looks, smells, sounds, and tastes like good food.
But perhaps it's time to do something different.
Although not religious, I do believe spirituality is an essential element in a healthy life and very personal choice. Kind of like food is. You are what you eat. A healthy gut is a happy gut.
It may be a new year, but 2014 feels very different. Like a door is closing behind me, gently; a well lit, untrampled green lies ahead. There is no defined path, but it is lined with friendly, familiar faces. Faces of those who have taught, inspired, and guided me. Supportive, influential, positive.
I owe it to them as much as to my self to succeed. Whatever that means.
Let's eat, shall we?
My contract working in the west end of the county ended in December which freed up some time to make a long overdue trip to visit one of my older brothers and his family (I think it's safe to say they are my family too). I brought along my sourdough starter and the Tartine Bread cookbook and although my family thought I was odd for traveling with a yeasty-smelling container of bubbling flour and dough, they did appreciate the flaky, buttery croissants it helped leaven. Sourdough doesn't have to be sour.
Still working from Tartine Bread, I was able to bake some English muffins as well. I've made English muffins many times with commercial yeast, but using the starter and fermenting the dough overnight produced an incredible tasting muffin complete with random sized bubbles just waiting to be filled with melted butter or oozing egg yolk. You don't get that kind of flavour with dough that has only been proving for an hour and a half. My only trouble was I didn't bring rice flour which helps prevent the wet dough from sticking to the cloth while it rises.
Now this, this is what I think is the green path that lies before me. In this picture are three cheeses, cabecou (made by moi), le cendrillon (from Montreal), and a soft-ripened cheese from Monforte Dairy in Stratford. The bread is slices of toasted corn & spelt baguette. Using locally milled flours from both HOPE Eco Farms east of Aylmer and Arva Flour Mills north of London, I attempted a recipe from Tartine 3. Tartine 3 is a cookbook written by the same chef as Tartine Bread, but the chef focuses on using whole grains and flours, much of them ancient or heirloom varieties, to produce bread and pastry with more nutritional benefits and most importantly - deeper flavours.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.