Friday, January 29, 2010

The Sound of Silence


Eight Grain Boules

Good bread crust crackles. Now, finally, mine does too.
Pizza is fun and all, but baking hearty whole grains loaves, baguettes, pitas, even some muffins and cookies in the wood fired brick oven is a pleasure. It is a beautiful thing to see a warm glowing fire radiating it's heat, energy and positive vibrations out into our little world at Flying Squirrel. Even more so though, the hands-on process in its entirety seems drawn out in a good way - many steps, yet simple and somehow very old. Who knows if my Eastern European ancestors ever baked their bread this way, but it all seems familiar and already almost part of the normal routine...

Firewood is split, stacked and dried.
A big raging fire licks red flames over the oven dome eating up the wood - a bit scary how fast.
The coals are spread like a blanket of heat.
The insulated oven door is placed.
A night's rest.
The door is removed, ashes raked out, hearth mopped revealing the hot ready firebricks.
Proofed breads are slid onto the hearth from a wooden peel into the dark.
The sound of silence is the moment - no convection oven fan blowing, just quiet oven spring, brown crust forming, just the right mix of smells.
I check the breads, rotate them, tap the crust, wait.
Breads come out onto wooden racks.
The first slice takes a little effort, and though the outer shell is hard, it is crisp, slightly caramelized and not nearly as thick and tough as the electric convection oven results.
There is still a great deal to learn about the process, the innuendos of fire, brick, yeast, water and air.
But I must say...
I'm having fun!

Thanks to Hannah Silverstein who first introduced me to Alan Scott's book The Bread Builders when it was first published in 1999. It took 10 years of dreaming, but now I am finally living the whole dream.

Pita magic is now even more magical!

Continue reading »

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What I Did on My Winter Vacation

Work, of course...

More work.

And more work...mixed with a little fun.

OK. We didn't ONLY do work over the last two weeks....

First, there was a grand party giving thanks to my awesome employees and supportive family during which we all thoroughly enjoyed delicious hand-made wood-fired pizza!

Then, there was a lot of ogling at the incredible full, blue moon.
This was the moon-set on New Year's Day.

And, we even did a three day escape to Anchorage with movies, ice skating, swimming, and...well, shopping (which for me is work). Sorry, no photos from that adventure.

Now, it's back to work. Not surprisingly, I was tired by the end of the break and wouldn't mind another break from the break! But so it goes. There is bread to be baked, new desserts to test (I got three new baking cook books while in town), an oven to finish and spring to look forward to. Happy 2010!

Continue reading »