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art and bread

bread

It’s autumn here in Northern California. So I’m desperately trying to get my front hedge trimmed (it’s crazy overgrown) before it gets really chilly out there, soup is on my mind constantly, and everyone is opening a new art show everywhere. As we head into my favorite cocooning season, I’ve got to share something that is completely off topic. But if you know me well, you will understand. Once something gets in my head I have to get it out before I can move on. And what I’ve got to share is this amazing bread recipe. In my house we went (mostly) gluten free a couple of months ago. It all started with a ‘clean food’ eating regimen that we decided to try to see how our bodies reacted to various foods as we added them one at a time back to our diets. One thing we all found was that gluten totally slows the digestion, at least in the massive quantities that we were consuming. And most of the gluten free breads out there are grainy, dry and totally un-palatable. Until I found this one. Here’s a link to the original recipe (thanks to the Gluten-Free Goddess®) and here’s how I made it….super simple. I used a stand mixer and flat beater.

Proof the yeast (that means put the ingredients listed in a small bowl and let them sit until frothy, maybe 5 minutes)
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 cup (generous) warm water, about 115 degrees (hot from the tap)
  • drop of honey or pinch of sugar
Blend the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl (put them in your mixer and turn it on the lowest speed)
  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons sea salt
Add the wet ingredients to the aforementioned mixing bowl leaving the speed on low
  • proofed yeast
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Continue to mix for a few minutes (I didn’t time, but I’d say maybe 3 or 4 minutes). Turn it out into a pyrex bread pan, oiled, smooth it flat with wet fingers, sprinkle on seeds of your choice (I used sesame and fennel), cover loosely with plastic wrap and set it somewhere warm for about 20 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook for 30-40 minutes. It will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom once out of the pan. If your bread sticks (like mine did), you’ll have to gently push the sides in with a dull knife. (I’m going to try an oiled cast iron bread pan next time.) If it isn’t quite done at first check, put it back in the oven without the pan, drop the temp to about 350, and keep an eye on it. It should be done in a matter of a couple of minutes. Don’t eat it all in one sitting, but do have the butter at the ready. Jam too if you’re in to that.
*update 1/22/15: I’ve now been making this bread for a few months and we still love it. If you’d like, you can replace the buckwheat flour with millet flour for a lighter colored loaf. Also, to avoid the sticking issue, line your pan with a long strip of parchment paper cut the width of the pan. Allow the parchment to extend well beyond the sides of the pan so that you can easily lift the loaf out when done cooking. Let it cool slightly then slice and eat. Yummy with compound butters (my current favorite is brown sugar and toasted pecan).
 

When you’ve had your fill of bread, check out these art shows in SF. There is no better way to spend a cold and rainy fall day.

Keith Haring at the de Young Museum, opens November 8

one of the world’s favorite populist activists

keith haring

Alien She at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, opened October 24

examines the empowerment of this generation’s women and the impact of Riot Grrrl

riot grrrl

Houghton Hall, Portrait of an English Country House at Legion of Honor, opened October 18

go ahead, get your Downton Abbey on

houghton hall

J. Otto Seibold and Mr. Lunch at the Contemporary Jewish Museum opening November 20

one of our very own famous Bay Area artists

seibold

Roads of Arabia, at the Asian Art Museum opened October 24

Art, Ebola, Landscape, Fog, Music, you name it at the Exploratorium every day and Thursday eve

if you haven’t visited the new location at Pier 15, it’s time

exploratorium

Skulls, at the Academy of Science until November 30

and earthquakes and insects and penguins and fish

acad of scienceEnjoy your indoor escapades and make that bread!

Keep in touch,
Leslie

great bread is worth a drive

wildflower7

My friends know what a gluten whore I am and have been telling me for years about this little bakery in a little town out in west Sonoma. I know I know, gluten is the devil and all, but this girl likes just a little bit of devil. And the devil always knows where to find me. So Sunday Steve and I drove the second half of his Giro Bello route and I could not have been happier to drive through the tiny town of Freestone and right to the doorstep of the mythic Wild Flour Bakery.

Opened in 1998, owner Jed Wallach makes bread 4 days a week and sells only at his Wild Flour Bakery….no deliveries, no wholesale, no second location and no credit cards. It is everything I have ever heard. The bakery is designed around the bread, and I use the term ‘designed’ very loosely. There’s a brick oven on the far wall, tables for bread making, racks for bread cooling, and bakers moving constantly around the kitchen either making or selling bread. The walls are painted with whimsical murals of birds and, somewhat oddly, an elephant. But the main design element is the bread. All of the day’s breads are sampled at the sales table, so you can decide before you buy (choose whatever is hot from the oven). They start the day with 4 breads and a scone, and over the course of the day add the rest of the day’s menu of about 2 dozen items plus coffee. My gluten free hubby (I know, sad) loved his gluten free cranberry scone. I snuck a bite and it was absolutely delicious…not in the least bit second rate. We brought home 2 loaves: the Egyptian, a sticky delicious sweet loaf full of figs, pears and candied ginger and warm still from the oven; and the Wild Flour signature wheat round which is perfect with a bit of butter and nothing else. Seriously, it is lunch all by itself.

Out back of the bakery is the Wildflower Garden which itself is worth the hour drive from my front door. Sunday was a beautiful day, so we took a stroll and enjoyed the garden along with the bees and hummingbirds. The rows and rows of raspberries bode well for the future of scones. Enjoy my pictures, then choose a day and make the drive. Around the corner from the bakery is a cheese shop which we didn’t stop for (as we were already running quite late for a wedding!)….so next time, bread and cheese. I may never come home.

Enjoy the rest of your week!
Leslie