Last week I wrote about some of the interesting Japanese breads I met on my recent vacation. Melon pan, a soft, sweet roll encased in cookie dough and scored to resemble a melon, captured my imagination as soon as I tried it, and I knew I would attempt to recreate this adorable little bread in my own kitchen.
I was delighted when I learned the theme of BreadBakingDay #2, hosted by Becke of Columbus Foodie, was Bread with Fruit. What a great excuse to bake, again, one of my favorite breads: 50% whole wheat, with dried sour cherries and toasted pecans. The earthy flavor of whole wheat, the tartness of the cherries, and the slightly sweet spiciness of the nuts combine to make a bread that is always a hit with my family and friends.
Ah, summer… corn on the cob, lazy reading in the hammock, and… sourdough starter, of course!
I’ve been taking advantage of this warm weather to try raising some starters from scratch. I had done it before in a week-long class (in fact, that’s the starter I’ve been using for months), but we were able to keep our cultures at a constant 80 degrees F, and we added extra malt to jump-start the process. I wanted to see how it worked with just flour and water, in the warm but fluctuating room temperatures of my non-air-conditioned house in these beautiful early summer weeks in northern California.
Success! Raising a starter seems to be something that is perceived as mysterious, complicated, or hard. But in my experience, it’s not; it just requires attention and patience.
I’m not growing any tomatoes this year – summer kind of snuck up on me before I got to planting them – but the farmer’s market and produce stand tomatoes are plentiful and wonderful. Even the supermarket tomatoes are darn good eating this time of year.
This simple salad is possibly the dish that says “summer” the loudest around our house. It’s a terrific way to use up that two-or-three-day-old bread that can’t quite stand on its own any more.
I’m told the Italians call this “panzanella,” but to me it will always be just “tomato-bread salad.” It’s great with your favorite grill fare, or on its own (with a glass of wine, of course) for a light supper.
I love baking all kinds of bread, but a basic sourdough loaf is an essential staple at our house. Good with everything from blue cheese to blueberry jam, and quite possibly even better unadorned, we always feel something is missing if there isn’t a loaf resting on the cutting board, ready for a quick snack or a hearty sandwich.
I have a beautiful couple of rosemary plants that have really taken off this year, but today I didn’t feel like doing my oft-made rosemary-olive sourdough. I had the brilliant idea that I would create something quite different from my usual fare, to present for my first blogging event.
Let’s just say this was not my finest example of clear thinking. But my thought when I started this blog was to document the bloopers as well as the unqualified successes, and in the end this didn’t turn out too bad anyway.