Last week I set off with the intent to make some rye bread as the request of my wonderful husband. I went through my cookbooks and couldn’t seem to find anything that seemed to be what I was looking for. So I asked a good friend and fellow baker for her favorite recipe and she recommended a book, The Tassajara Bread Book. I received it in the mail and immediately liked it. It was a small book, but with a hippie looking cover and pages that just felt nice. My mother taught me to make bread when I was a child and she did a very good job of giving me a base of understanding of how to do it. However, I was wanting a bit more information so that I could branch out and make more complicated bread. This book seemed to be just the thing to do it. I sat down on the couch and eagerly started reading.
The book is wonderful – it talked about the different types of flours and the qualities of each one. Then it laid out step by step very detailed instructions on how to make a basic whole wheat bread. Most of these I was acquanited with, but it offered a bit more detail. For instance, I always wondered why you needed to let the bread rise several times and then you took all the fun out of the rising by punching it down. It just never seemed to make sense. It turns out that you are fostering the growth of the yeast to give you good bread. The yeast releases a waste product when it grows, air, which causes the bread to rise. Then you punch it down to release the waste of the yeast and allow it to continue to grow. It just makes so much more sense now!
Yesterday, I worked my way through their basic whole wheat recipe. There was a lot more rising and punching down and rising and punching down than I was used to, but I followed all of the instructions just to get a sense of how to do it. Sure enough, last night I pulled two gorgeous looking loaves of bread out of the oven. My husband and I even ran to the local grocery store to get some jam for the warm bread. I let them cool and then cut into them. It was delicious! It was such a hit that my husband toasted some this morning for breakfast. I can’t wait to try the other recipes!