Oct. 31st, 2012

pseydtonne: Behold the Operator, speaking into a 1930s headset with its large mouthpiece. (Heyo!)
I have made two loaves with the new bread maker. It's the same brand as my old one, but I had new variables that did not exist in the mid-Nineties.

The big oddity has been tiny: salt. Back in 1995 we really only had Morton's table salt (especially in college or at my parents' house). Now I have sea salt in my cupboard... and strangely nothing else. When I used it to make our first white loaf (the test loaf), it may have been too coarse or the coarseness kept the teaspoon from filling properly. The result was a delicious, fluffy, squee-inducing loaf that rose so high that it looked like a snow-out of the lid window.

Another of our wedding gifts was a set of salt and pepper grinders. Thus I accepted the salt grinder's default setting of very small, ground two teaspoons and added them to the pile of non-flour dry objects for a wheat loaf. Perhaps this went too far the other way: the salt was like flour, so the yeast probably came across it too soon in the first rise. As a result we had a dense and low bread: it felt like cutting soda bread, and it was yummy but... solid. Bread knives gave up repeatedly.

This is a strange minutia with a large effect. Salt inhibits rising, but it should not be picking fights with the yeast. It's about understanding an ancient dance, just as I hope to learn the secrets of making sourdough starter.

I found a bread maker recipe book from 1996 and started reviewing the well-tested recipes. Almost by accident I picked up buttermilk powder last night, and I always have maple syrup even in Los Angeles thanks to Trader Joe's. Thus this afternoon I started a buttermilk and maple syrup white loaf. No matter the results, it's about learning and enjoying: Sienna and I get to reflect on our results and learn together while we burn through spreads of all types.

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