Sunday, June 15, 2014
It's been two years.
Bay, I still think of you when I drink coffee cold, when I put on lipstick and eye-shadow, when I'm in that cafe we sat in- you'd be disappointed, the quality has gone down and the prices have gone up- just like everything these days- and I kind of wish we were sitting together now, and we could sigh, yes, the world has gone to trash, just like the old ladies we should be together. Bay, I think of you in the middle of the day sometimes, for no reason at all- just a thought of you fleeting and there.
I guess this is a thing one must learn, how absence can take up so much space. Time is only a buffer in the sense that it makes things less immediate, but loss never becomes anything other than loss.
The recipe I'm posting today has very little do with what I've written today, but it is about nostalgia.It's about learning to bake bread with my grandmother, her strong forearms and sturdy hands, learning to tell when dough is done by touch and sight. I've never really been successful when trying to replicate my grandmother's challah, which is a thing of beauty, let me tell you, but I have had more success with her whole wheat bread. My grandmother's whole wheat bread is made of 100% whole wheat and yet somehow still manages to remain light and fluffy and slight sweet. It's bread you want to slather in almond butter for your afternoon snack, or just eat plain, straight from the oven. It's whole wheat bread the way you remember it from years back, from your childhood in your grandmother's kitchen.
My Grandmother's Whole Wheat Bread
Adapted from Mindie Mermelstein
2 tablespoons dry yeast
4 tablespoons warm water
pinch of sugar
2 2/3 cups warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
7 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tsp salt
1. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of yeast in 4 tablespoons of water add a pinch of sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. The yeast mixture should start to bubble and froth. If it does not, the yeast is dead. Throw out and start over with new yeast.
2. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the water, oil honey and yeast slurry. Combine until a shaggy ball of dough begins to come together and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and cover your hands in flour as well (though dough will be sticky), knead until it is supple and smooth and is no longer taking in flour. My grandmother says this should take 6-8 minutes. Most people, however, haven't spent a lifetime kneading dough. It took me closer to 15 minutes. Form a nice ball, and put the dough back into a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
3. When the dough has finished it's first rise, punch down and remove from bowl. Let it rest for 5 minutes and then knead briefly. Divide the dough in half. Press half of the dough into a rough rectangle, starting from the width closest to you fold the dough over itself in thirds, much like you would fold a letter to fit into an envelope. Place the loaf into a loaf pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the two loaf pans and leave to rise until doubled in size. This can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes.
4. While the loaves are rising, preheat the oven to 350 f. When the loaves have finished rising, brush the tops with a little bit of water. Bake for about 40 minutes. Tap the bottom of each loaf, if you hear a hollow sound, the loaves are done baking. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy.