Friday Bread Basket 9/23/22
Lifestyles of the enriched and famous
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain. By the time you receive this, I’ll be en route to Norwich, VT to teach enriched breads of all kinds up at King Arthur. In case you are free Friday evening and all day Saturday and within a few hours drive from there, two slots just opened up, so join us!
Eventually, everyone with even a minor following who posts images of food on social media gets comments “asking” for recipes, whether or not the picture is actually tied to a recipe or just a snap of last night’s dinner. Sometimes these requesters are polite, but just as many drop a lazy “recipe?!” into the comments, seemingly unable to find the time or energy to compose a complete sentence. I know that none of you here do this sort of thing, but I still recommend you read Tejal Rao’s recent Times story about this phenomenon, and what it says about how we collectively value the labor of recipe development:
Picture him, scrolling Instagram. He slows down for a flash-lit image of pasta on someone’s crowded, linen-draped dining table. For a sunlit reel of chickpeas and olive oil breaking down into a golden pulp. For a bubbling pot of oxtail.
He might not plan to cook these dishes — in fact, he probably doesn’t — but each post makes his thumbs tingle. Instinctively, impulsively, he begins to type:
You could say that recipe guys represent a major area of growth for reply guys. And anyone can become a recipe guy: You just have to believe that every time you see an image of food, you’re also owed a recipe, then insist on it.
My general response to this sort of thing is to waste five minutes thinking up a snarky response to it, only to then decide to ignore the request entirely. (Ten minutes if there is a mention right there in the post about where to find the recipe.)
Mitchell Davis recently shared a detailed post on how to make rough puff, which is a sort of “cheater’s” puff pastry that is far easier to make than the real thing, but doesn’t really compromise much on results, despite the shortcuts it takes:
I’ve been watching Britain’s competitive home bakers make rough puff for years now. But I only decided to make it myself a few weeks ago. I came across an Italian Reels in my Instagram feed that featured a savory, starburst-shaped zucchini and mozzarella tart. I was intrigued by the shape and excited to find another use for zucchini, which, in its gargantuan form, continues to occupy an entire drawer in our refrigerator. For some reason, perhaps simply because it was in Italian, this IG recipe seemed more legit to me than most. It called for puff pastry, which I didn’t have or want to buy. Like my friends on GBBO, I didn’t have the time to make it, either. So, I scanned the BBC website for a recipe for rough puff and got to work.
I do a leavened version of this, and will have a recipe to share eventually, but in the meantime, this is a great primer on the whole process, and it includes lots of ideas on what to do with the stuff.
Bagels under fire
My pal Martin Philip recently shared a post on the King Arthur Baking Company blog on how to make bagels in a tabletop pizza oven, saving me the trouble of figuring it all out myself:
I’ve wanted to make bagels in my Ooni pizza oven since the day I got it. Crisp, fire-kissed rounds, tugging at my teeth with a whiff of wood smoke and a smear of cream cheese; that’s a baker’s dream. But I was afraid. This month, I finally decided to give it a shot. And then, a dozen more shots, perfecting the method until I was pulling beautiful bagels from the oven, rather than the charred rounds I made at the start of my experimenting. In short, I burned bagels so you don’t have to, and now I’m here to show you the way.
But first, a warning. If you’re looking for something with a little risk, and a big potential reward, this is the challenge for you. But the learning curve is no joke: At the start, you will burn some bagels. I did, too. But my step-by-step method will help you unlock Ooni Bagel: Level Expert in no time.
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. I hope you all have a peaceful weekend. I’ll share pictures and details from my class with you next week.