Friday Bread Basket 9/2/22
Back to School Edition
Taking these month-long summer breaks from publishing the newsletter has proven essential to get my writing groove back, but it’s also a bit of a challenge to boot back up after such a long time away. This is especially true for the Friday Bread Basket, since the influx of bready news items doesn't cease just because I stop sharing them. Which means I have a huge backlog of items in my pile. I’ll never get to them all, but here are a few of the highlights from the last month or two.
I mentioned Ashley Rodriguez’s coffee newsletter Boss Barista the other day in relation to her interview with Tara Jensen. I also loved this recent essay of hers about how the simplicity of the “recipe” for making coffee is—like that for bread—an opportunity for meditation in the kitchen:
Even though the recipe for making coffee is as simple as they come, it can also be deceptively complicated. Despite the fact that a cup of coffee is made from only two ingredients, once you learn how to pay attention, no two cups of coffee will ever taste the same.
I’m pretty happy with my Ooni tabletop pizza oven these days, but I was intrigued by this new barrel oven design from Burlington, VT-based WoodFyred. I had a barrel oven of my own once, but it was nowhere near as lightweight or portable as these. Gotta get up there to see one in person soon.
Everything that Ruby Tandoh writes is wonderful, including her recent New Yorker essay all about yeasted cakes:
For centuries, yeasted cakes weren’t a folly but a fact of life. Cultures around the world have developed their own variations, from Italian pandoro—so generously enriched with butter and eggs that it flushes gold—to babka, which has shape-shifted across kitchens and continents, from a simple brioche-like Polish cake to the baroque chocolate swirls of the babkas favored in modern Jewish-American cooking. In Central Europe, there was gugelhupf, a princely cake with a delicate, sweet crumb and, often, a garnish of almonds. Such “sweet, yeasty, breadlike cakes” were, as Anne Byrn notes in “American Cake,” among the first cakes to be baked by settlers in North America, where they were “leavened with yeast cultures . . . or made from the foamy barm skimmed from fermented beverages like beer.” As yeast consumes the sugars in flour, it releases carbon dioxide, which collects in tiny pockets in the dough. The gas expands upon baking, causing the cake to jump upward. The “hupf” in gugelhupf may be a nod to this yeast-driven “hop.”
That’s it for this week’s Bread Basket. I hope you all have a peaceful, labor-less long weekend, and don't forget: Summer ends at 8:04 p.m. on Sept. 22, and not one minute before.