After that endless summer heat fall has found us. Have you noticed the nights cool enough for long sleeves, the gardens drying down, yesterday morning's rain? Have you breathed in the damp air and felt the melancholy of summer's end, edged with the hope of a new season? We're stepping into my favorite time of warm days and cool nights, sunshine and all the harvest bounty. I've started sweeping the neighborhoods on my bike rides for apples, pears and Italian plums to fill up my winter larder. Last weekend I put up four gallons of applesauce and today you can reap the benefit in a wonderfully cozy apple and oat bread. I've been working on the recipe since the last time I brought it to market, and now I have a loaf that's a little sweet and a little nutty, with a creamy crumb, and a hint of apple perfume.
Less certain (at the time of this writing) is the conclusion of this week's lamination experiment (laminated doughs are layered dough and butter, to make croissant and puff pastry). I went to an inspiring whole grain lamination workshop at the Grain Gathering last weekend, led by a baker from King Arthur Flour and another from Stone Barns, and came home determined to make whole grain, sourdough croissant, despite never having made basic white, yeasted croissant. I won't be baking them until just before market, so if you want to know how they turned out, you're going to have to come by to see for yourself. They'll almost certainly be delicious, but they may not be pretty.
Until then, have a lovely morning.
I made a just-in-time blackberry expedition in the sunny beginning of this week, and emerged from the brambles scratched, sticky fingered, stained, and triumphant with enough berries to make jam, pie, fruit leather, and some rustic little blackberry, peach, thyme galettes for market tomorrow. Even if this sudden encroachment of fall weather marks the end of blackberry season, I won't go empty handed into the winter months. I hope, though, that we have a few weeks of berries yet, if only for the glorious summer-distilled smell of sun and overripe blackberries.
I had an interesting bake on Tuesday. Due to a disastrous combination of mistakes, misjudgments, and environmental factors wholly out of my control the day dragged on endlessly. Or at least, every time I thought the end was almost within my grasp, it slipped away again. I had a WSDA spot inspection in the morning, and, while talking to my inspector, forgot to add levain to the Hard Red Wheat bread, an oversight I didn't notice until 4 pm, when I opened the oven to find shelf after shelf of lovely brown discuses (disci?). An unfortunate setback, but not so terrible. I started again.
Then we lost water pressure. For hours. I was carrying 5 gallon buckets of water over from the bar next door and watching in fascinated horror as dishes from four businesses slowly piled higher by the useless sink (we use an astounding number of dishes).
By 11 pm the Hard Red was rebaked, and I pulled the final bread out of the oven. Fifty beautiful, golden loaves of blueberry cornbread, each with a crack running down the middle showing its deep blue interior. As I watched they slowly sank into themselves, the blue cracks disappearing.
It was too much. I was too tired. I had a small breakdown. I decided I needed to toss the whole batch and remake it (I'd already remade one bread, why not a second?). Luckily I called my roommate to confess my failures. She showed up with snacks and talked me out of my state of exhausted melodrama. Thank god for friends. When she left, a little after midnight, I turned to stamping, stickering, cutting and packaging.
By the time the Moss Mountain bakers arrived and solved the water mystery (a single pipe unthinkingly closed by the mop sink), and I finished tying off the last bag of granola and turned to the dishes, I was asleep on my feet. Every dish or two I would open my eyes to find myself still standing at the sink with the sprayer in my hand. I could never remember closing my eyes. It was 6 am when I biked home, 23 hours after stepping into the kitchen with bright expectations of a straightforward, 12 hour day.
From this unexpected extravagance of kitchen hours I have learned that I (unsurprisingly) am not well suited to all-nighters, and that I will never be the kind of baker who likes to work in 24 hour shifts (they exist, I've met them). Also, that midnight snack breaks make a small world of difference in outlook.
Anyways, I made some tweaks to the cornbread recipe and am bringing the new and improved version to market tomorrow. It's well on it's way to becoming a seriously kick ass cornbread, if I do say so myself. I've also got some truly lovely garden flatbreads, courtesy of the front yard.