Friday, September 25, 2009

BBA "French" and "Italian" Breads

Last night I went to a little event at a downtown bookstore that featured Amanda Hesser (NYT Food Writer), Julie Powell (Julie & Julia, and Judith Jones (Editor for Practically Everyone I Can Think Of) speaking about the enduring legacy of Julia Child. Hesser was concise and incisive, Powell voluble and mobile--intensely thoughtful, and Jones warmly patrician, with practiced delivery and a well-developed sense of humor.

I enjoyed the opportunity to listen to these three ladies, to hear the 'real' voices of the literary voices I've read eagerly. I was a little disappointed in the quality and quantity of the questions ("Did you really eat aspic?), but since I didn't ask any myself, can't really complain.

The event did make me confront an issue I've been wrestling a bit with, which is the focus and style of this very blog. I know food blogs are a dime a dozen, but I do enjoy mine (and enjoy my cooking more), and I want to spend some real time working on the quality of the writing here. It's going to take attention, and time. Ideally, each post would be a well-thought-out, honest, mini-essay, with something new to say or instruct, possibly some good links, and connected to an overarching goal or writing persona that is uniquely mine. Writers like John Thorne and Julie Powell have raised the bar in their different ways, daring me to engage with the food I make on a visceral and intellectual level, to examine it from the vantage of appetite and history and my honest understanding of self and family. Perhaps tellingly, neither of these writers use photographs or pictures on a regular basis. They rely on the quality of their prose and the urgency of their interest and passion. I could read John Thorne's work forever, and while he comfortably fills his own niche, he makes me believe there might be a niche for me as well.

This is just to say, look out for some longer musing and hopefully some material more probing than 'I made this! It was good!" though there will be those as well.

By the way, as a part of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, I made these French and Italian style breads. They were good. I present the recipes together because they are essentially the same. Both begin with a prefermented dough to simulate the leftover dough that would be used in a similar bakery recipe (Once again I wasn't on top of it enough to just save some of the French Bread dough to make the Italian...go me). The method continues exactly the same (the Italian gets a little sugar and oil enrichment along the way) until the shaping. For the French, I made one baguette, one batard, and one little round loaf. I turned the Italian dough into a pile of picturesque little rolls.

Both formulae produced sturdy, flavorful sandwich breads. Matt's happiness as being able to have a simple turkey sandwich was a firm reminder to make this kind of bread more often. I preferred the Italian style, in as much as there was a difference, but that might just have been my fondness for the little roll shapes.


misterrios said...

I actually like having lots of pics in my blog, though that's because I love taking photographs as much as I like writing. Maybe even more. I like that round bread hidden in the back. That's the scissor cut, no?

Katya said...

Yes! Yes it is. Thank you for noticing.