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Friday Bread Basket 4/14/23
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain.
I know I’ve been mentioning it in the “classified notes” at the top of every email for awhile now, but I did want to say a little more about the Lune Cookbook walkthrough I am doing over the weekend of 4/22-3. I’ve been working with the recipe for a month or so now, and while I still consider it amazing (I mean, look at those things), I am finding it can be improved with a little tweaking to both the formula and the process. Some of these changes seem necessary because of how our flours behave compared to the Australian ones that Kate uses. Others just make the recipe a little more approachable for first-timers.
So if you’ve already got this book or were planning to buy it, I think you’ll find the workshop a useful companion, and hope you’ll attend (or buy it for later reference, since all of the segments will be available for downloading and there is an extensive annotated handout).
Also, if you haven’t already, you should join me over on Substack Notes, Substack’s new space that lets people (anyone, not just Substack writers) share short-form notes with one another and get to know other people on the platform. It’s kinda like Twitter, but without the vitriol and loser weirdo at the helm (so far, at least).
Here’s a recent note of mine:
I’m going to use Notes to promote items from the newsletter, but also to share shorter things that don’t fit here, like images from recipes-in-progress, cool things from friends, or questions that need questioning & answering. I’ve been using it in beta for a little while, but it’s now open to everyone, and I think you might like it.
Easter is over for most, save for those who follow the Orthodox calendar, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep eating Easter treats. And there are loads of them to discover in this NatGeo story on Bavarian Arnd Erbel’s Easter offerings:
It’s 10 days before Easter, and Arnd and his team are about to embark on what he describes as “the busiest week of the year”. This seasonal baking, which doubles Arnd’s own personal workload, begins a month before Easter. “We start with decorative products for the bakery, so that customers know what will be on offer, then move on to pre-orders,” he says. “People like to know they have their Easter goods.” In Germany, shops are shut on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, so it’s important bakers are prepared for the last-minute rush.
Arnd Erbel's 12th-generation bakery in the Bavarian market town of Dachsbach is preparing a variety of baked treats for the Easter weekend, from traditional items loaded with religious symbolism to popular, kitsch creations.
…As for Easter cakes, Germany’s favourite is arguably the osterlamm, a pound cake baked in a lamb-shaped mould that Arnd explains is typically served “with coffee on Easter Sunday afternoon, not on its own but in addition to, for example, an apple cake”. Lamb cakes are also to be found on the table on Easter Sunday morning: in a country well known for its generous breakfast spreads, it’s no surprise that this, for many Germans, is the main event. In addition to the usual selection of bread rolls, cold cuts and cheeses, there are eggs aplenty — colourfully painted hard-boiled ones, as well as foil-wrapped chocolates — and sweet, yeasted Easter breads, which are served with optional butter and jam.
ICYMI, there was another Eater matzo post that accompanied the one I shared last week, this one an explainer on everything you might want to know about the “bread of affliction”:
One of the seder’s great earworms, the Four Questions, kicks off by asking, “Why is this night different from other nights?” Then comes the first of those questions: “On other nights we eat leavened or unleavened bread, but only unleavened tonight — why?”
You might also wonder why some Jewish people adopt an entirely new dietary regime over the seven or eight days of Passover. And what unleavened bread means — it’s matzo, of course, but what even is matzo? The seder does, technically, answer these questions, but its main text, the Haggadah, is both maddeningly specific (God struck the Egyptians with, like, what, 10 plagues? Oh, I see, by 10 you meant 250) and broadly conceptual. It gives an answer, but in a kind of roundabout, at some points literally biblical way.
Matzo carries the burden of being both a symbol and a food. Its effectiveness as the former has arguably damned its success as the latter. Unlike other Jewish holiday foods that are typically available in some form year-round, such as latkes and Hamantaschen, matzo is a dietary necessity, and its association with Passover seems strong enough to kill any urge to make it good enough to eat when there’s no religious obligation. While matzo’s bad rap comes partly from the boredom of having to eat it for more than a week, it also stems from a lack of understanding that, actually, it’s pretty versatile. Whether it’s “good” or not is subjective — but as any Jew can tell you, there’s still much to be said about it.
I like matzo, but the idea of a bread that must be fully baked within 18 minutes of mixing water and flour makes my heart race a little.
Melt the guns
Are you all readers of Anne Byrne’s wonderful Substack Between the Layers yet? If not, you should start with her recent post The Intimate Art of Making a Sandwich, which ties sandwich-making with the gun violence that recently visited her hometown of Nashville:
ALL MY LIFE I’VE SLICED OFF CRUST from sandwiches for the people I love dearly.
Sandwiches are intimate foods you make for someone no matter how many times you repeat them. Scrambling an egg and wrapping it up in buttered toast for breakfast when he’s overslept on exam day. Laying thin strips of turkey with a whisper of mayo on Pepperidge Farm white when she’s going through chemo.
Peanut butter and strawberry jam on wheat, no crust, cut into squares you can pull swiftly from a sack without your hands leaving the wheel.
I guess you could count the sloppy Sunday bacon and tomato sandwiches in the summertime, too. No telling how many hours I had put into growing those Bradleys and Cherokee Purples, scarfed down in seconds on soft white by family wolves at the kitchen table.
Maybe not the circular cucumber sandwiches with dill I stamped out with perfection for that herb society tea. That was more duty than love. But the pimento cheese finger sandwiches I cut the crust off for his mother? That was love.
…While a discussion of decorum might be saved for another day, I will say that I have been in situations as a woman when I have not been heard. My words have been drowned out by men around me. And my natural reaction is to breathe more slowly and speak louder and with authority. If I had been a legislator and my constituents were peacefully protesting in the rain because they want no more schoolchildren and teachers gunned down and believe Tennessee’s gun laws are too lax, I would have done no differently than the Tennessee Three.
I know from your comments that many of you are weary of my writing about school shootings and assault rifle bans instead of recipes. But when it’s your town, and I hope that it never is, you might understand.
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. I hope you all have a peaceful weekend, see you on Monday.