A quick shout out to everyone who helped choose the cover image for this post. I had sent out a request to all email subscribers (if you aren't on the list, you can sign up on the right) last week to vote on whether they preferred the shot of this gorgeous boule on a dark background or light. Light was the overwhelming choice and here it is, gracing the beginning of the post!! Thank you guys!
As you can imagine, for me the act of asking was more than just about this picture. It was as much to get an understanding of what you as readers were feeling, as also about learning to take feedback on my work. The truth is I preferred the dark one because of the high notes of contrast and how much it stood out. Also, I love pairing brown with black and just showing how glorious brown can be.
Yet, you told me that as much I may love a particular style of work, if I am putting it in front of you, then, perhaps, I need to rethink and be more aware of what you like to see. That was an important lesson. Every artist, and that includes me, of any caliber has an narcissistic streak and total absorption in their perception of how the art should be portrayed. Yet, the beauty is after all in the eye of the beholder.
To that, dear reader, I am beholden to you. As, for it were not for you, I would be mired in boredom and lack of spur to challenge myself to think outside the confines of my eye!
Now, let's switch to the subject that has caused so much gratitude from me. Let me begin with the bread. I had been hankering to make bread. For a few weeks now. Couple of years ago, I took a bread intensive and I was really happy about all the baking I was doing. You see, I love bread. Well, of course you know that already. As also that I cannot indulge in this wheat filled happiness any more. And, since it is forbidden, the itch remains unscratched and forever niggling.
So, last week, I decided to simply give in. I would just bake it and then share it. My hope, unspoken, was that the karma of sharing would absolve any consequences of blatantly ignoring the signs from my body. Errr.. well. Anyway, decision made. I also wanted to make something with a bit of vegetable in it, like a potato bread but not potato. Eventually, when I had a bit of butternut squash left, I decided that was going into the bread.
Having come this far, I could not decide what type of bread to make. Sourdough is the only form of bread I can somewhat tolerate, the long fermentation having broken the spine of the wheat sufficiently for my system to not cry bloody murder. Also, as flavor goes, it is epitome of all good breads and I really love the crumb as much as the tang. But, I had in the past tried my hand at making sourdough starter to abject failure.
To be honest, I was moping. I wanted to bake bread, dammit. I wanted some thing that had long fermentation but without the strain of another rejected culture. Would not someone provide me with a solution?! Well, inspiration came after all! In the form of this blushing boule. All at once, I knew that is what I needed to do! The infamous no-knead bread was my call to action. With a near 24 hour proofing cycle, I could simulate the benefits of the levain as much as practically possibly without the starter. Plus, both links show that the resulting crumb would be spectacular and the crust definitely looked stunning!
There was my manna. I went ahead with LP's recipe tweaking to adjust for the switch from starch to squash and came out in a day, the proud parent of a gorgeous boule of bread perfectly cracked, browned and hollow sounding. It was all I could do to wait for the bread to cool before slicing into it.
Once I did, all my resolutions of simply baking the bread and admiring it vanished. I had to eat it. It was oh so good looking to not slather with butter and snack. Then of course, it must needed to be eaten with egg, and then peas! Oh, the fresh peas. I was sprouting peas at the time and happened to have a few left over from replanting. And, a bunch of peas. Ahem! It was a siren call, I simply could not resist.
I cannot describe the feeling of bliss I felt in mashing ripe avocado slices on top of a butter bread slice, lovingly piling on sautéed peas, plopping a fried egg on top and prettifying the whole thing more with pea shoots from the window sill. Divine, would be getting there but not quite. It was indeed a smashing tartine.
And, the no-knead bread. Definitely a keeper!
Butternut Squash No-Knead spelt Bread
I adapted the recipe from Mandy's of her purple yam bread, itself inspired by the book, Flour, water, Salt Yeast.
I have given the measurements I used to make the butternut squash bread. Squash has higher water content and less starch and so some adjustments are needed. As to the directions, Mandy does a great job of explaining the steps and I will refer you to her post for the same.
420 g spelt flour
300 g water, at 86F ~ 95F
2/3 cup butternut squash puree
9 g salt
1.5 g (scant 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
Follow the directions of this recipe, simply substituting the measures here and the squash puree for the potato she uses.
Fresh Peas + Fried Egg Tartine
4 slices of bread above
4 T softened butter
1 ripe avocado, cored and sliced
3/4 cup fresh peas
1 shallot, finely diced
juice of lemon for the avocado
small bunch of pea shoots
salt and fresh cracked pepper
Spread butter on each of the slices.
Smash quarter of an avocado on each slice and spread evenly. Sprinkle salt and squeeze lemon over.
In a pan, sauté the shallots till soft. Add the peas, salt and fresh pepper. Cover and cook for just a few minutes, literally to warm through.
Divide the peas on top of the slices.
Fry 4 eggs and top each slice with one.
Arrange pea shoots on top.
Finish with fresh cracked pepper and Serve immediately.