Friday, April 13, 2012

Life and Bread (life comes first, bread shortly thereafter)

This March & April, Colorado has been throwing little hissy fits.

Record heats over 80 degrees, brief and random monsoon-like rain showers, crazy out-of-control wildfires, a little snow and frigid winds here and there. Maybe mother nature hit her head somewhere and got a little confused.

All of that means that it's time to savor the lovely spring weather (and a budding garden!) before a drought hits.

Radish Hearts :)

Baby lettuce peeking through plum blossoms

Little tinkling bluebells

The babies are enjoying the spring sunshine too:

I made a nice lentil salad (from the lentils in my pretty glass jar)

And ground some fresh fennel to make sourdough Swedish Limpa bread.

My sourdough culture was a gift from my parents.

It wasn't wrapped with a bow, and it was more like a I-dunno-what-to-do-with-this-here-you-take-it re-gifting.

But I love it just as if it did have a bow. I feed it and dress it up and give it a place to stay.

SWEDISH LIMPA BREAD (molasses & fennel rye bread)
(makes 1 loaf)


-3/4 c. warm water
-1 tsp. yeast
-1/3 c. molasses
-heaping 1/2 c. sourdough starter
-2 c. dark rye flour
-1.75 c. bread or high-gluten flour
-1/2 Tbs. ground fennel
-1 tsp. salt


Mix the water with yeast and let sit until frothy. Then mix in the molasses and sourdough starter until the starter is well-incorporated with the water. I was using a stand mixer, so I just dumped the rest of the ingredients in, put on a dough hook, mixed on low until everything was incorporated, then beat on high 6 minutes until dough was smooth and slightly elastic. Otherwise, knead by hand 11 minutes. Roll against counter until you form a ball with a very tight skin on top. This helps keep the gasses the yeast make in, helping it rise and develop sourdough flavor.

Drop the ball in an oiled bowl, turned to coat with oil. Cover with a wet towel, and leave to rise about 8 hours (I made it in the morning so I can come back to it for dinner). If you're around to punch it down every couple hours, that's great. If not, your dough won't die of overproofing.

Afterward, form into a log, and place on greased baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and place a tray of boiling water on the bottom rack. Score the bread (I like diagonal stripes across the top), and put in the middle rack of the oven. Bake uncovered 3 minutes, cover loosely with foil and bake 15 minutes, then uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes. When done it should be very brown on the bottom and hollow-sounding when the bottom is tapped.

Enjoy steaming & with butter or soft cheese :)

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