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Monday, March 16, 2015

Breadstory: A Tale of Two Flours and Mary Pat Kiernan's Irish Soda Bread

         Love Finding This Flour of Forgotten Flours from the UK and Bakery Bits! 

The past few quiet and snowy months I've been working on revisions to my novel, The Way of Psomi.

There were two flours to contend with. Two ways of making bread.

I donned my red cloak and left home to search for who was right. Who was wrong. How bread could inspire such complexities. Bread by nature was simplicity.

Meet the first flour.

(Back before there were gluten allergies. In the time when grains were truly ancient, because well, everything was.) 

And in all good and compelling stories there was a problem. 

Meet the second flower. Was this the big problem?

Alas, no. Well, maybe. But, I don't think so.  

So, I readied for the Floral Games; nervously as I was sure to meet the problem. And to meet the challenge; joining the flour and the flower.   

And here especially for St. Patrick's Day I offer this delicious Cherry'd Millet and Cardamom Raisin Bread.  Practically problem free.

The Two Flours: Dark and Light

Bird Seed: Cherry Juice

Millet: Floating in the Red Sea

Millet: Its Goose Cooked With Raisins (actually, it is vegetarian)

Tamarind: Strained Free of Pits

The Loaf of Two Flours

The Split Loaf From Above with the Recipe Below

Mary Pat's Famous Irish Soda Bread with Cherry'd Millet, Cardamom and a little Tamarind Sesame Ginger Butter

This recipe originated from my very good and irish-as-the-day-is-long friend, Mary Pat Kiernan. Her wonderful bread had seen me through many trials and tribulations in the “just graduated from CIA” days. We worked together as private chefs in the Colorado Mountains near Gunnison and later, when our services were no longer needed, she would make her family's bread every time I came to visit her in Denver from Colorado Springs. We explored the Larimer Square scene fortified with coffee and her bread.

I’ve revised this recipe a bit, and changed up the flour as per my research for Psomi, but I think she’d still like it! The cross cut on top before baking is designed to let the devil out, but it also helps the loaf expand without cracking.

makes 1 loaf
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 cup einkorn flour
2 cups Lammas Fayre maslin flour
1 cup organic oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder                              
1/4 cup butter                     
1/4 cup honey

pinch of salt
1 t caraway seeds
1 /2 tsp cardamom seeds
1 cup millet
1 cup raisins
1 cup cherry juice
2 cups water

1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cup buttermilk

tamarind ginger and sesame butter
1 cup sweet butter, plugra if possible
1/3 cup raw sugar
pinch of coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

to prepare millet:
in a medium saucepan, bring the 2 cups water and 1 cup cherry juice to a boil, add a pinch of salt, the caraway and cardamom, raisins and the 1 cup of millet. bring to a second boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 -25 minutes.  pour the cooked millet into a large mixing bowl to cool slightly. (this should make about 2 1/2 cups cooked millet.) add the 1/2 cup honey and stir well

make the soda bread
mix together the first six ingredients. cut in the butter with a pastry blender or with your hands until mixture resembles coarse meal.

when cool add in the cooked millet and raisins. stir the baking soda, egg, and buttermilk together in a separate bowl, mixing well. combine this with the bowl ingredients stirring until all ingredients are thoroughly moistened. turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about five minutes. shape dough into a round loaf; place on a greased baking sheet. using a sharp knife, cut a cross 1/4 inch deep on top of loaf; lightly
sprinkle cross with flour.

bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until bread sounds hollow
when tapped, and a small knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  remove from baking sheet and cool completely on wire rack.

make the butter
place the butter in a crockery bowl and then over a shelf on the stove to soften from the oven’s heat. when soft, blend in sugar, paste, spices, and seeds. transfer the mixture to a small crock and place in a cool spot till it firms up a bit.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Levain is Like Story: A Boule of Einkorn, Barley, Spelt, and Garbanzo

Over the years I have kept and fed bowls of levain from all manner of millet and figs. grapes and fresh cherries..and I am guilty of feeding my levain almond flour and chestnut flour.. until it practically gurgled in protest; Arret!

There have been manuscripts of parallel stories, and just to be really sure that those didn't work, I wrote from both first and third person POV's and a test run over hundreds of pages about looking for an obscure and allegorical place to find this novel, The Way of Psomi.  

You might say, if you are inclined to analyze your life and levain :) that it was a very dante-esque experience.

"In the mid–path of my life, I woke to find myself in a dark wood," writes Dante in The Divine Comedy.

"woke up anxious to feed the levain before setting out
this morning. 
but journeys of any kind ~ 
paths in the mountains, 
through vineyards, 
past unknown villages, 
call to mind similar walks, 
and dartings - 
if dartings can be a noun for a few minutes 
- along the edge of the forest."   

The Levain is like the Story..The Levain is like the Story..
Keep it pure and simple. 

Here is the latest test bread for the Way of Psomi..

Boule of Einkorn, Barley, Spelt, and Garbanzo 

~ please forgive the ounce and standardized measurements. this was baked on a stone in a gas oven.

3 oz liquid levain
2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1 cup einkorn flour
1, 1/2 cup spelt flour
1 cup cooked barley
2 teaspoons salt 

knead in:
1 cup garbanzo flour
1 and then 1/2 cup bread flour, if needed

begin this baby a full 24 hours ahead of when you want it. of course this is assuming you already have a levain.

feed and then ladle out your levain in a nice size crockery bowl. add the first list of ingredients in the order given. stir until smooth - with a wooden spoon - and let sit for 4-6 hours. 

later in the afternoon, knead in the cup of garbanzo and bread flour..depending on the weather you might or might not need the remaining 1/2 cup of bread flour. the dough should be still somewhat sticky. let it rest at room temp with a towel over the bowl. then, lay it to rest for the night in the refrigerator

the next morning get it out and have a cup of coffee while you wait for the dough to wake up. after a couple of hours knead it around in the bowl and let it rest again for a good six hours while you make a pit fire outside and burn your tax info from 2007, as well as the entire pile of printed out manuscripts from last year.  the woods welcome the sun going down and the children run in the cul de sac behind where we live. their voices echo back to the days when it was our two sons and the boys of the barkers and the mchales at play. 

that done, turn the oven with the stone already in, on to 400 Fahrenheit. divide the dough in two.  shape into two round boules and let rest for 30 minutes. when the oven has heated for an hour scoop up your boules and carefully place them on the hot stone. 

bake for 40 minutes..i think..or until the crust is golden brown with darker edges, grigne. 

much love, dorette

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