I'm not a baker. I’m a maker. That’s why I love this bread I made this morning. It’s a made item, never to be made again, my own self-nurturing “troll bread” that I made up.
What’s in it? Well, let me tell you what eating it is like first. Think a rich Russian rye bread, tight Pumpernickle or a harvest blended sourdough, but heartier and just ready for grass-fed butter, some tart jam, or a dip in a peppery lentil stew on a cold grey day.
And I had no idea whether it would actually be edible at all.
And that’s why I’m a maker, not a baker! Of course I could study up, do the million sourdough challenge, make all the videos, and know I could knock out a perfect San Francisco sourdough every time. But I can walk half a block for fresh-made artisan any kind you can think of bread because I live in food heaven, Seattle.
Perfection I can get. That’s not the craving I’m solving for.
I’m solving for that alchemy that came from playing with ingredients, being my reputed “mad scientist” self and hoping that my instincts will work this time. Sure, basic bread is here, organic einkorn flour, yeast, salt and warm water. But then my cupboards spoke to me and we had a blast adding…buckwheat, nutritional yeast, rye, potato flour, some other grains and even some garbanzo flour because it was there. This probably has a name, something like a cupboard bread, or a recipe that someone built that tells you exactly how much of what to use, but I’m not blaming anyone else for this.
Scoop, sift, and away we went. I did have a vision.
My vision was that this is the bread I want to enjoy with the aforementioned lentil soup and/or with skyr on it, my favorite member of the yogurt/cheese world. Holding this concept of a hearty, toothsome, sour/salty/sweet/nutty with body in my mind, I mixed it all up into a wet-ish dough, gave it a sloppy roll in olive/sunflower oil blend, and covered it wet and warm-ish for overnight fermentation/yeast party. Hope springs eternal, but molecular fun was guaranteed.
This morning we met up again, my monster mush and I, and the smell was perfect, this yeasty ferment on sweet grain, so full of culinary potential....so heck yeah, let’s fire up the oven (and heat the house, thank you!), and get these bad boys onto final proofing, as if I really knew what I was going for! Decided that even biscotti texture would work for me, so I formed and clipped, put down the paper, and let them warm up with the oven into a final bake at 400. (Steam pan of course.)
How long? Well, again, it was almost as long as it took for me to finish designing an assignment and finishing up my lecture slides for a UW class I’m teaching tonight. Roughly an hour? Or so, from the cold oven? I went by smell, and when it smelled like the bread I wanted to eat, I got up and pulled it out to rest. Off goes the oven, open goes the door to let the heat help the house and back to finishing up the work for class.
Given that brioche, boule, or baguette are barely a block away, why did I go to the trouble? Why all this?
Why? Because my home smells warm and cared for, I feel the sense of accomplishment of creating AND of feeding myself. (Don’t judge on the flours!).
I also took chances and tried listening to my senses on what to do, going for texture, trusting the relationships between the ingredients and how that would translate to flavor and taste. Risk? Not much, wasted food for humans but quite edible for birds no matter what I did…so why not?
And the flavor itself, this “troll bread”? It's an expression of memories in the make. It’s about my friend Stefan, who introduced me to Sigur Ros, whose music is so amazing that I wanted to know why it sounded that way, so I went to Iceland, where I had amazing food and learned to love skyr as a mouth reminder, and had bread there with it that I envisioned when I threw some weird stuff in a bowl yesterday!
I don’t think the bakery up the street has that.
How to use this reading:
Take moments for yourself to capture this feeling with your own reconnections to things that matter and ways to explore and play.
Take moments also to connect to others who may have inspired you along the way
Think about your teams, at work and in the world, and how you can create this feeling.
Take a risk and make something