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shewhomust

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Baking with Emily Dickinson [Oct. 11th, 2014|05:22 pm]
shewhomust
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While my back was turned, The Guardian has reorganised its Saturday magazine: as D. says, they have got rid of Lucy Mangan and replaced her with yet more cooking. By and large, this isn't a good thing.

However, a column headed 'Breakfast of Champions' (yes, I know) offered a recipe for Emily Dickinson's rye and cornmeal bread, and that seemed worth trying. I had to make quite a few changes to adapt it to my sourdough process, so what I made wasn't quite Emily Dickinson's version, and it isn't her fault if it came out dense and chewy (and the crust even more so, which made it difficult to slice). But in a good way, so worth further experiment, and here, for my future reference, is what I did:

I added 5 oz cornmeal (all that was left in the jar) to 240 g water and a teaspoonful of salt, brought it to the boil, stirred it for a minute or two, then added a (generous) tablespoonful of molasses - not molasses sugar, whatever that is, but molasses itself, which I find it difficult to spoon other than generously.

I left this mixture to stand while I re-started the sourdough, then scraped it into the big bread bowl and added the remains of the starter, and 5 ozs each white and rye flour. As I mixed in the flour, the dough felt very grainy at first, and it took maybe another ounce of water before all the flour was mixed it.

Thereafter, my usual sourdough process: left it for an hour or so, knocked it back, left it rather longer, knocked it back again, left it another couple of hours, kneaded it into a ball - and by now it was a whole lot easier and springier to handle, much to my relief - rolled it in rye flour and dusted a baking sheet with more flour, slashed the top of the loaf and let it rise on the tray until I was ready to bake it (400°F for maybe 40 minutes, and I didn't do the thing with the boiling water in the oven because I am a wimp).

Another time: well, I was deliberately mean with the water, because it's so easy to end up with a sticky mess. Another time I might use a bit more - though I note that using these quantities, the loaf made a nice round ball, with a smart open slash on the top. A wetter mix might not behave so well (decisions, decisions!). I might also try using this way of incorporating cornmeal into my usual loaf, regardless of the rest of the recipe. I note also that there is no oil in this recipe, and I might try adding the usual amount before kneading. I missed out the baking powder, but no doubt Ms. Dickinson had her reasons for including it, and I probably ought to give it a try before deciding against it.

And one of these days I ought to try that thing with the boiling water...
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-10-11 07:56 pm (UTC)
Our last night in California, desperance made buns to go with the barbecue pork, and they were so white and soft and light you would not believe.

This loaf was the exact opposite of that.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-10-11 07:57 pm (UTC)
Imagine Burroughs' Bread, for instance...

Like chappattis, cooked in a frying pan?
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[User Picture]From: la_marquise_de_
2014-10-11 07:11 pm (UTC)
Even more cooking in the Guardian? Argh.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-10-11 07:57 pm (UTC)
You didn't think it was possible, did you?
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-11-13 09:25 am (UTC)

Beta release

5 oz cornmeal, 275 mls of water, and easy on the molasses makes a stiffer mixture than I was ready for. Luckily adding the starter (and another spoonful or so of water to rinse it out of the jar) gives me something loose enough to proceed to the next step (add flour; don't forget the baking powder).

As before, 5 oz white flour, 5 oz rye. Plus 1 teaspoon baking powder. The dough was crumbly, but coherent enough (not as gritty as I remember - is this batch of conmeal different, I wonder? Same source, though - Durham market). Leave to rest while washing up.

Pour a spoonful of sunflower oil into the bowl, and knead lightly. It drinks the oil very rapidly, but I haven't added more at this stage. Now go and do other things fo a while...

Edited at 2014-11-13 10:59 am (UTC)
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