Thursday, August 14, 2014

Peach Sriracha Butter.

One of the surprising blessings that came along with having children was getting to know my neighbors.  I live in a small neighborhood of about 3 streets wide, a collection of maybe 100 homes that before kids I knew nothing about.  Introverted by nature, I politely went about my day coming to and fro without much interaction with the community around me, exchanging a few pleasantries maybe but not really knowing anyone personally.  Kids changed that.  Suddenly, you begin to run into the same people while running after a toddling youngster: you discover that your kids play well with their kids, you are on a first name basis with every dog on the block, and you find that the people around you are really interesting and creative and lend a huge impact to your daily life.

Monday I spent part of the morning with a few lovely women as our children played hard together.  There seems to be an unstated rule that conversation can be quickly interrupted for any number of reasons, which is actually quite nice.  It frees you from the rigor of conducting yourself in a more proper manner; I've never felt like I've been very good at moderating the flow of conversation, so stopping one abruptly to run after a child and then starting up a new one suits me pretty well.

My friend Susan is a musician and we got to talking.  She was saying how she had material that had been on hold since before her son was born (5 years) and how she should never do that because it interrupts the process.  I immediately thought about my own creative processes.  If I don't take the time to document something that really inspires or excites me within a day or so of making it, I just let it go.  "Of the moment" is so much part of the thing that makes my writing mine, makes it relevant to me as I look back on it.

It's really not so unlike preservation as I capture that split second that the food goes in the jar, I also sieze the feeling around it - the light in the kitchen creating pictures that echo the weather outside and even the time of day I had the time to muster the thoughts to the page.  Making that time seems ever more difficult as the summer is in full swing and there are so many things that just pop up on a day to day basis.  Prioritizing my online life falls to the back of the line, even when there have been so many things worthy of sharing.

peach sriracha jam.
Food in Jars' Peach Sriracha Jam (Honey Sweetened Peach Chutney) I made last week.

The summer is the heaviest preserving season, and traditionally I think I've been much more creative than I've been this year.  Short both on time and money, I didn't overdo or overthink my pantry shelves.  I have smaller batches and just enough based on what was eaten most heavily last year.  Where I used to make the time to stand stirring the pot with excess, I now stirred it with just enough - thankful for it and happy I knew where to turn for solid recipes when I didn't have the wiggle room for experimentation.

I got peaches at two different times, and split both with  neighbors.  (You can read about the first peach adventure here.)  Quickly enamored of the honey-sweetened peach chutney that Marisa McClellan posted on her site Food in Jars, I turned to her latest book as the peaches softened and I felt guilty just eating them all standing alone over the sink.  I made the small batch last week and was totally addicted.  I had exactly 2 lbs. of precious peaches left, and got to thinking that making the recipe into a more homogenized butter might be a pretty swell idea.  It takes a little longer for the boiling butter to thicken and it spatters up the stove something terrible, but all in all I think it's worth it.  It's like a spicy peach ketchup, and I've been trying it on everything.  And, just as you'd suspect, it is good on everything.

peach sriracha butter.

Peach Sriracha Butter (adapted from Marisa McClellan's recipe in Preserving by the Pint)
yields about 2 half pints
  • 2 lbs. peaches, pitted and pureed (I used a Vitamix, but you could use a regular blender)
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 c. Sriracha sauce
Combine the peach puree, sugar, and lime juice in a preserving pot (I used a 3 quart shallow saute pan, despite the spattering issue).  Over medium high heat, cook and stir frequently until the butter reduced and thickens, 20-30 minutes.  You should be able to draw the spoon through the butter and the trail doesn't fill in quickly.  Just before hitting the right consistency (aim for a thick ketchup), stir in the Sriracha and bring back to a simmer until thickened.

Pour into sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

sriracha
Does anyone ever remember tossing out a bottle of Sriracha?  It seems to just last forever, and then disappear...

Peaches have now come and gone.  I really shouldn't dare make any more sweet preserves for the year,  but have enough extra for gifts and special occasions.  I have too many open jars of jam floating around the fridge in a never-ending tetris game of space.  I'll have to invite a lot of the neighbors over to help me polish them off!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Recent Preserving (Part 2)

It seems whenever Friday afternoon rolls around I become nostalgic in a way, for the way things were before I had my own family and the weekend loomed like a glittering jewel before me.  A good part of my single life, I held 2 jobs - and there were plenty of weekends spent working I'm sure, but in retrospect I had this miraculous thing called "free time" which seems to come with alarming infrequency lately.

Sunday afternoon, I got a couple of pounds of gooseberries from Klee's.  I made the time to work them into jam right away Monday morning since they were pink and soft.  They were mixed varieties, that when commingled with sugar transformed into a singular flavor that I still can't describe.  They are tropical I swear, a Midwestern answer to passionfruit.  My little tester jar of gooseberry jam the other week told me I should stop shy of the 220 degree gel point, so I boiled to 118 degrees and was rewarded with a softer set.  I'm going to write down the recipe, since it bears remembering my process. 

gooseberries.

Gooseberries are naturally high in acid.  Green gooseberries higher of course than those that are picked and allowed to blush - but with the blush their tartness mellows just a bit and makes a "prettier" finished preserve.  There really aren't a whole lot of gooseberry jam recipes out there I noticed in my digging.  Even the county extension website was vague (and why don't those conventional sources use weights?? This plagues me:  I am a scaling addict.).  To be extra "safe", I added the juice of a half lemon.  There is definitely enough natural pectin that you should never dream of using a box of liquid or powder.

Gooseberry Jam 
yields about 4 half pints (I got 3 jars and one mostly full to eat now)
  • 2 lbs. gooseberries, tops and tails trimmed
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
Combine the gooseberries and water in a large preserving pot and smash casually with a masher to crush most of the gooseberries.  Heat over medium heat and cook until the gooseberries break down a little, about 10 minutes.  Then add the sugar and lemon juice, increase the heat to medium high and continue cooking, stirring regularly, until you reach your desired firmness - about 118 degrees as I mentioned above.  You'll feel the thickness of the jam increase as you stir, and the jam should sheet nicely off the spoon you are stirring with.

When the jam is ready, pour into sterilized jars, top with lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

gooseberry jam.
This week, I also did pickles.  My mother-in-law wanted a dozen jars and bought me a half bushel of cucumbers at the farmer's market on Tuesday.  By Tuesday evening, I had done 22 quarts (losing one to a broken jar).  I used my Gram's pickle recipe, misjudging the amount of brine I'd need two times, causing me to pause and make more.  That worked out all right, especially with a new baby walker anxious to try out his new skills at my feet in the kitchen.  Maybe I'll always associate his first steps with a mountain of pickles; that's kind of a nice thing.

pickles.
This recipe is the only pickle that tastes like a real dill pickle to me.  The recipe is in my book

By late evening, I had the pickles mostly done.  I had about 5 pounds of cucumbers remaining and I was too tired to think about more pickles.  They sat for 2 days in the fridge before I put them to their final rest in jars.  I tried two kinds of refrigerator pickles that I'd not made before.  The first were these turmeric spiked whole dills that Ivy recommended.  I used the recipe as a template, since I was low on fresh dill.  I used Spice House pickling spice and extra dill seed.  I used Bragg's cider vinegar even though I "killed" it by heating it to a boil.  I love the taste of Bragg's so much that any other vinegar doesn't taste like vinegar to me.  A half recipe of the brine filled two quart sized jars just fine.

refrigerator pickle
This Weck jar is slightly bigger than a quart though, I think... 

I sliced the remaining pickles to 1/8 inch on my mandoline and made a big jar of refrigerator pickles.  I got the recipe from my Parents, who had gotten it from someone in the '90's.  I remember the plastic pail of bread and butter pickles as being too sweet and kind of flabby, not really my favorite things 20 years ago.  But I modified the recipe and so far I think they are one of my favorite pickles ever!  In part, because I left out all traces of celery seed.  There aren't many things I dislike, but I've come to the realization that celery seed is kind of one of them. 

I can't seem to keep my fork out of this jar.  After 2 days, the cukes are still pretty crisp.  I kind of winged the recipe, making just 1/4 of the brine (which was simply equal parts sugar and white vinegar, with the addition of 1 tablespoon of kosher salt), and adding a  half onion and extra brown mustard seed.  This recipe is so quick, just mix everything and pack it into a jar.  I'll give the proportions for a whole batch - but keep in mind it's pretty forgiving.  The cukes give off their own liquid when allowed to rest in the salted vinegar brine, so after a few more hours the jar above was completely filled with liquid.

Bread & Butter Pickles
  • 3/4 of an ice cream pail of thinly sliced cucumbers (remember when everyone ate ice cream from a gallon pail??) (I'd slice about 1/8 inch thick) 
  • 4 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 c. white vinegar
  • 1/4 c. salt
  • 1 1/2 t. turmeric (I added extra)
  • 1 1/2 t. mustard seed (I added extra)
  • 1 1/2 t. celery seed (I omitted it)
Combine everything in a large bowl (the ice cream pail if you are following the '90's approach) and mix well.  Place in the fridge and let sit for 4-5 days before eating if you can.  The pickles will last at least 6 months under refrigeration.  (I prefer to store in glass of course, I just mixed everything in a bowl and packed into the more-than-quart glass jar seen below.  I love that jar, my Mom gave me some honey in it once and I can't bring myself to give it back to her...)

bread & butter pickle

Part of the reason I might have a new-found love for these bread & butters is that I've been making single cucumber batches of James Peterson's Thai Cucumber Salad with Peanuts from his Kitchen Simple cookbook.  I am a voracious reader of cookbooks, and I think one of my favorite authors is James Peterson.  His books seem like friends to me, and the Kitchen Simple book in particular has become my trusted ally in quick summery eating.  His salad has equal parts sugar and rice wine vinegar (the unseasoned kind), some chile peppers and plenty of cilantro.  It's so good.  I'd imagine I could do up a quart similar to the bread and butters and munch on them for a month or so and I might just have to get more cukes to do that.

So what do I, "unemployed" for some 8 years already, do on a Friday evening now?  Afternoon has come and gone since I started writing this, and a spanakopita of sorts is just about to come from the oven, concocted of fresh chard and kale and some frozen spinach unearthed from the freezer.  The new baby walker opted out of a nap to practice his craft and is already asleep at 6 pm.  The window are flung wide open with the coolness of our most excellent summer weather ever.  I don't feel the pangs of sadness I once did that I don't do anything exciting come Friday night, instead I take pleasure in the hard work of the week and get ready for a country visit so I can hopefully bring some more work home with me.  It's really the best kind of life.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Recent Preserving.

I use the term "recent" loosely.  It was Monday when I finally got the jars I had my imagination set on completing, and it was Monday when I made the decision to ditch the second little batch of delicious honey-sweetened strawberry-thyme jam (from Food in Jars' latest book, Preserving by the Pint)  that had been waiting for me in my covered red leCreuset pot for 4 days.  (It smelled fermented, and sadly the berries did not have a pleasant flavor.)  Time with two little boys and summer and birthdays got the better of me; I remind myself that it's okay to let things go back to the Earth when time slips like that.  That's my Mom's quote, and I think of her each time I forget about some precious leftovers, or get too ambitious and forget to mind my real-life timing.

red & whitecurrants

Last Saturday, we went to Klee's Out on a Limb.  I discovered them last year, and make no qualms about calling them my personal orchard now.  It's maybe a 20 minute drive, but feels more rural than that.  This was the second time I've gotten currants, and not being within days of giving birth as I was last year, I was able to pick them myself (with Candy's help).  I tried every variety and since the blackcurrants weren't quite ready, I got red and white.  White currants.  I think I mentioned 50 times how beautiful those things are, making up for the flavor I felt wasn't quite as good as the red seeing as they weren't as tart.  After 5 lbs. in my bucket, I tried some pink currants too - and those had quite a lovely flavor.  I have to rein myself in from a currant only preserving season.  I think I love them that much.

white currants
Transluscent, they look like pearls or fish eggs.  My eager baby-eater liked them very much.   

Last year, I made cordials out of them.  Both were great, though I probably preferred the shrub that turned viscous and thick, a mouth-coating thickness from all the pectin.  I actually just finished off the bottle, only tippling tiny cupfuls here and there because it was so sweet.  Aged a year, it was still wonderful.  I agonize over investing in good rum to make more, and as I do, the extracted red currant juice ages in my fridge.  I should decide to can it or freeze it before typing any more, so it doesn't succumb to going back to the Earth too.

I also have a small amount of non-juiced currants left which I need to get into vinegar.  Red currant drinking vinegar was my favorite flavored vinegar last year, it barely lasted me a month!  I might try it with the white currants and see how I like it.  (Note to self: must also invest in another SodaStream seltzer cartridge.)

floating white currants

currant jam
Seedy currant jam.

Last year, I only made currant jelly - which is so easy I'm not sure there is an easier preserve to tackle.  Only slightly more work was currant jam, which uses mostly currant juice (I used red) and a pound of whole, stemmed currants.  For juice, you don't need to remove the stems so the process is truly efforless.  The 20 minutes spent gingerly plucking the white currants from their tiny green stems was worth it - and I thought the color contrast was beautiful even though I knew it would fade with the cooking.

The jam itself is nicely seedy, tasting tart like the currant jelly, but more interesting and maybe kind of nutty with the seeds.  I read that currant seeds are quite healthful too (especially in the blackcurrants, but I figure the other colors must be as well), so it seems like a worthy offset for a sugary preserve.

peach chutney

Nearly a week before the currants, I split a case of peaches with a neighbor.  It's the 3rd year I've had "peach truck" peaches, which come from Georgia and are dropped nearby at a number of locations locally.  (The service is Tree-Ripe.)  I feel like we hit the jackpot, since they harvested Berta peaches for the first trucks of the season.  They were some of the best peaches I've had in years, true "drip-down-your-wrist" fruits, with excellent flavor and color.  I made a half batch of Marisa's Honey Sweetened Peach Chutney, which I altered slightly to account for my extra spice addiction.  A friend gave me a jar of dried Piri Piri chiles last year, and I hadn't used too many of them.  I added 15 to the pot - which turned out to be pretty spicy.  I fished 4 of them out as I was tasting, but boy those have some good flavor.    I also added extra brown mustard seed, and probably more fresh ginger.

Another great thing about this recipe is Marisa's trick of removing peach skins.  Simply cut the peaches in quarters, remove the pit of course, and cover with boiling water for 3 minutes.  Drain, and the skins slip right off.  Amazing!  I used the same method to make some fresh peach salsa for our tacos last night, I don't think I'll ever blanch a peach traditionally ever again.

peach chutney, toast.
This stuff is so good that I might use the last of the peaches to make another batch - maybe less spicy for gift giving.  I'm definitely hoarding the 4 jars for myself.

In with my currants from Klee's, I had a handful (literally, 58 g.) of gooseberry.  I have never tried gooseberry.  I can't describe how excited I get to try new things, and at the orchard, I nibbled a bunch of different varities.  (I need to remember to bring a notepad and pen there, I can only remember choice things: like that the Newtown Pippen apple was Thomas Jefferson's favorite, and which tree was the mammoth Wolf River variety...)  The gooseberries will be on more by this weekend, so I made the tiniest batch of jam ever to see what I could expect.

handful of gooseberry
I used a 6 inch stainless saucepan for this jam.

On some reading, I let them sit around until they were pretty soft and had turned from their bright green to a more rosy color.  Then I topped and tailed them (that's a Linda Ziedrich term that seems to really stick in my brain), and weighed them in at a mere 56 g.  I added a tablespoon or so of water and steamed them a minute or two to get them softened before adding the same amount of sugar and cooking them down.  It was such a small batch that the whole process took less than 10 minutes.  The color and flavor were incredible.  I'll have to make time to get down there for more!

gooseberry jam

I really just couldn't get over the color, which I figured was about as close to watermelon-colored as I could describe.  The tiny seeds even look like melon seeds too - which I thought was interesting.  The flavor of gooseberry jam was different than I expected, though I'm not sure at all what I was expecting.  It has a tropical nuance to it, nicely tart but not as tart as the currant it seemed.  It feels pectin rich, and has a very firm set - I could have probably simmered it a little less.  My tiny batch filled half of a 4 oz. pimento jar, more than I expected, but definitely not enough to satisfy my new gooseberry obsession.

It's a good start to the season, which I have to remind myself is actually here.  It's a pleasantly cool summer,  with only a handful of 80 degree days so far.  It's filled with walks and bike rides (my older son just discovered how fun his first bike can be, and has developed an obsession of his own), fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants meal planning, and yet another year of a struggling garden.  I remind myself that it's not important right now to be cataloging what I do.  But, still I love the photographing, and if I seem quiet here, there are still notable things going up on my Facebook page and Flickr.  If you have some gooseberry ideas for me, shoot them my way.  We'll see what comes of them!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Yeasted Apricot Upside Down Cake

Before I start, maybe I should say that this isn't the most amazing cake I've ever eaten.  True, I did  love it for the sum of its parts, for the deliberate act of assembling its components, for its subtle mix of simple flavors.  But I think it's possible to love a cake purely for the process of making a cake.  That is how I love this cake.  I love this cake with all of my old soul.

yeasted apricot cake.

Last year I found a copy of Debora Madison's Seasonal Fruit Desserts at the library.  It may no longer be in print, but I loved it so much I found a used copy online, and I'm so glad I did.  It's become a manual I consult whenever I have extra fruit on hand, and it's consistent in the new inspiration and techniques it teaches me.  

Ripe apricots in hand, I began my search online for what to make with them when I remembered she had a recipe for a yeasted pear cake, baked in a cast iron skillet upside down style.  Obsessed as I've been with mint lately, I was really looking for a way to combine some perfectly ripe apricots with fresh mint... and preferably in some type of cake since it has been awhile since I've made a cake.  Fortunately, I decided on this old-fashioned skillet cake.  I was happy for a few occasions to share it, since it is a good sized cake and not really a "good keeper", although I have been appreciating it gracefully staling cold from the fridge and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I can't complain.

browning apricots.

With only 6 tablespoons of sugar, this is a decidedly unsweet confection.  The apricots turn soft and jamlike and make this the perfect thing to have with coffee or tea (or with the aforementioned ice cream, the ice cream adds a little extra sweetness and helps the dry crumb go down a little easier).  I played around with the spices a little and think I could have maybe been a little more aggressive, but in a way it works because the apricots are the stars of the show.

browned apricots

Make sure you take note of each part of the process, enjoying the steps as you go.  It's not a one-bowl cake; it requires some finesse, especially when working with a soft and somewhat sticky dough.  The texture of the cake is akin to a biscuit, and as Madison says, it is best warm.  I would store any leftovers in the refrigerator and try to eat them within a few days.  The texture changes, but it's still good.

I used Lonesome Stone Milling's organic all purpose flour which is wheatier than most, more like a "white wheat" available in the regular grocery.  The recipe is written for a 10 inch cast iron skillet (oddly enough, that's my number 8 skillet), you could use a well buttered 10 inch springform or cake pan and brown the fruit with the butter in a skillet first if you don't have cast iron that size.

Yeasted Apricot Upside Down Cake (adapted from Deborah Madison)
makes 1 10 inch cake
  •  6-7 ripe apricots, washed (but not peeled) and halved
  • 2 T. dark brown sugar
  • 8 T. (1 stick or 4 oz.) soft butter, divided
  • 1/4 c. warm water (100 degrees)
  • 1/2 c. warm whole milk (100 degrees)
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 c. ap flour, divided 
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 green cardamom pod, seeds removed and crushed
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 t. almond extract
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
Melt 3 T. of the butter in the cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  After it melts, brush it well up the sides of the pan and add the dark brown sugar and the apricot halves.  Toss the apricots in the bubbling mixture to coat, and then let them brown slightly on both sides, about 4 minutes total.  Turn them all cut side down and arrange them as you like and remove the skillet from the heat.

Put the warm water and milk in a small measuring cup and add the yeast and 1 t. of the sugar from the measured 1/4 c. of granulated sugar.  Set aside to proof, and meanwhile whisk together 2 c. of the ap flour with the cinnamon and cardamom.

In a bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if working with a hand mixer), add the egg and egg yolks, almond extract, remaining sugar, and salt.  Working with the paddle attachment, beat in the yeast mixture on low speed, then add the flour/spice mixture (also at low speed) 1/2 c. at a time until it is all incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium-high, and add the soft butter.  Beat for 2-3 minutes until the batter is smooth and glossy.  By hand, stir in the remaining 1/2 c. flour, and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter.  (It will still be sticky, use a bench scraper to help you maneuver it.)  Knead it gently a few times, then pat into circle the same size as the skillet holding the apricots.  Lay the disc over the fruit, and slide the whole pan into a plastic bag to rise for 30-40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Once the oven is hot and the cake is noticeably risen, remove it from the plastic bag and bake until golden brown and a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

After removing from the oven, immediately invert by placing a cake plate over the pan and flipping it carefully.  As Madison recommends, serve it warm with whipped cream (she also recommends sabayon) - I say go for the vanilla ice cream.

yeasted apricot cake
Just prior to baking.

Of all the many cakes I've made over the years, not many yeasted cakes come to mind (a noteable exception is the panettone), and this one seems to be versatile enough that with mindful spicing, you could use just about any fruit that comes to mind.  I'd imagine using a whiter flour would result in a slightly less dense cake, but I like this old-timey texture and depression-era sweetness.  It's satisfying.

apricot cake slice

This slice is 3 days old, and I took the picture tonight just as the sun was about to fall behind the trees.  It's not photogenic really, but it shows the texture of the cold cake pretty well.  I always think there are two types of people (well, 3 really if you count "pie" people) those who refrigerate cakes and those who don't.  I am one who doesn't.  I don't like cold cake, I like cake about to fall apart under the weigh of my fork - or better, under the weight of thinking about my fork.  But this is a sturdy cake that I love and I hope you'll love it too.  If you happen to try it with other seasonal fruits, let me know will you?

(P.S. A couple weeks ago when I was just starting to see apricots pop up at my food co-op, I made this apricot jam... it's a winner.  I'm eating it nearly every day (it's particularly good in vinaigrette with really good olive oil and Bragg's cider vinegar) and I am still not tired of apricot!)




Monday, June 9, 2014

Risen in Water.

Over breakfast this morning, I was paging through Maria Speck's Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.  Ordinarily I read cookbooks cover to cover, starting at the beginning and gradually making my way through each recipe, story, and picture in sequence as the author intended.  Maybe time is so short for me lately that I bucked my trend and just headed for the guts and the pictures, making a moment or two to think about my meals for the week between pureed mouthfuls fed to the baby bird.  How I happened to see the recipe for Floating Sesame Loaf is a mystery.  I wasn't perusing the book for bread to be sure, but the name alone conjured such an image that we endured the little baby bird squawking for a few minutes when I read the recipe twice through.

dough rising in water.

Could it be that this bread could work?  It seemed to be an impossibly wet loaf, spending some time rising in cold tap water before maneuvering into the oven.  Still shy of more sourdough since last weeks fail (I did start more loaves today however), we kind of needed some bread today, and I am not one to see a recipe like this without immediately stopping everything to give it a shot.

My first impressions were that this dough was beyond unruly; I tried hard not to add too much additional flour, using a bench scraper to work it into a rough round and transfer it quickly to a pot of cold water.  It stays there for 15-30 minutes, enough time for the dough to rise to the top of the water.  Maria Speck says the dough when plucked from the water and allowed to drain in your hands should feel like cold clay, and it did.  I fought my impulse to let it bench rest for a short time and followed the recipe to the letter: quickly and without much flour forming it into a round and plopping it down on some parchment to rise for another 20 minutes.  In retrospect, I could have easily added a little extra flour to make things easier on myself - but I can't complain with the lightness of the finished bread.

floating bread

I could tell that it wasn't going to be a tall loaf, but I wasn't sure what more I could expect.  I used Lonesome Stone Milling wheat bread flour (12% protein), I'd say it was kind of a "white whole wheat" if I were trying to explain the flour.  That flour has an excellent flavor, and a few tablespoons of toasted sesame, a teaspoon each of sugar and some commercial yeast were all the simple ingredients.  I baked it at 425 as directed, but I baked it in a cast iron pot since that is what I'm comfortable using.  I transferred the loaf parchment and all to the pot and baked it 20 minutes with the lid on and 10 without.

floating bread (2)

I was pretty good about letting it cool to room temperature.  It was soft, and smelled so sweet - despite the minuscule amount of sugar in it - and it was nearly impossible not to want to eat it warm with honey and butter.  The crumb was perfect sandwich style crumb, and really I couldn't believe a straight yeast bread could happen so quickly, without kneading, and with fairly little mess.  I think with a little practice, this technique could prove to be a good experiment with sourdough - but maybe I'll wait until I can carve out a little more devoted time to myself before embarking on that.


I won't forget about this bread, risen in water, relaxed (tricked?) into gluten formation by sheer science with no real help from me.  Tomorrow morning, we've already decided to turn it into french toast which I'm sure will be great with some extra sesame sprinkled on before griddling.

I've decided that I can't print the floating bread recipe here, I wasn't finding too much information about it on the Internet, and Maria's book is so lovely it's worth finding a copy and reading about it in her words.  If you have tried a similar type of bread that spends some time rising in water, please drop me a line and let me know!  I'm really curious why there isn't a whole lot of information online... I'm planning to scour the library for obscure German baking books and doing some more research 1980's style.


with radishes