Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Monday, May 11, 2015

Baking Bread with the Boys

My homemade sourdough bread has two premier fans--my grandsons Logan (10) and Carson (6). I hear stories, in fact, that Logan likes to sneak down to the kitchen at night and take chunks of it back up to bed with him. Good boy!

I normally start the baking process each Sunday morning about 7:30. The night before, just before bed, I feed my sourdough starter--which will be twenty-nine years old this August--with three cups of organic flour and two cups of warm water, mixed thoroughly, covered. It sits in the kitchen all night, grows like crazy. Like me, it prefers warmer weather.

On Sunday morning, I return two cups of the starter to its crockery home, which lives in the fridge, and begin mixing whatever it is I'm going to bake that week. Usually, it's a whole-wheat bread--one traditional loaf, one round loaf. But it could be an artisan bread, pizza dough, waffle batter. Depends.

The first rising is done about 10:30 or so. Then I shape it and place it in its baking pans and wait till, oh, about noon or so, then bake for about forty-five minutes.

It takes a lot of the morning but only because I have to be around. The actual labor isn't all that much.

But yesterday was Mother's Day, and we'd made plans with our son and his family to meet them at a nearby restaurant at noon. So I modified my baking plans--something I've had to do, of course, myriads of times.

I fed the starter on Saturday morning, let it work its magic all day, returned two cups to the crockery, covered the remainder (the bread-fixins) and put it all in the fridge.

My plan: When we left for the restaurant on Sunday, I would take the dough out, let it warm up while we were gorging and otherwise celebrating Mother's Day, then proceed with the baking when I got home a couple of hours later.

What I didn't know was that our son (Steve) and his family were going to come back here after lunch. They had some Godzillian-sized planters to give Joyce.

And it was then that I asked Logan and Carson if they'd like to help me make the bread. Oh, would they!

I divvied up the tasks (no sibling rivalry to ruin the day!): Logan poured in some warm milk, Carson added the melted butter, I put in the (local) honey, each boy got to add a teaspoon of sea salt. Then it was over to the mixer where we blended the ingredients and gradually added the flour, thickening the mix. The boys took turns--some oat flour, some whole wheat flour--until the mixture was nicely pasty. Then we let the mixer whir away for seven minutes (don't ask). Carson wanted to be the one to turn off the mixer, so he kept his finger on the switch virtually the entire time. That boy definitely has more patience than I.

When the seven minutes (don't ask) were up, we slowed the mixer and began to add more whole wheat flour (each boy doing some) until the mixing blade began to labor; we stopped, replaced the blade with a dough hook, and then began adding organic white flour until the dough formed a ball and cleaned the side of the bowl.

The boys were delighted to see our initial mush turn into a ball of dough. Magic.

Then we took the bowl over to the kneading board, floured it, tossed the ball out, and began to knead, each of us taking a turn. Once they realized they couldn't hurt the dough, they really went at it--which, of course, is what you must do.

When it was finally the right consistency--nicely elastic, not too sticky--I put it in a greased bowl (well, sprayed with canola oil), covered it with a sheet of Saran Wrap, put it on a rack to rise.

Then came the clean-up. Let's be kind and say that the boys were ... enthusiastic about their bread-prep endeavors and had caused some, uh, consequent messes. Their mother, Melissa, was already moving around the area, making minor rescues, and I (an authority on bread clean-up) did my part. The boys had had enough, though. The fun part was over.

I told them that it would be a couple hours before we could shape the bread, but I knew they wouldn't be around for that. They had other visits to make ... and miles to go before they slept. I told them I would text them/Facebook them with pictures of the stages.

And so I did.

And so here are three pictures: the risen dough they'd help make, the loaves ready to bake, the finished product.  I will save the round loaf to give Carson and Logan. The latter, of course, as soon as they acquire it, will commence his nocturnal raids.

Good boy.

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