Thanksgiving, my usually favorite holiday is just a day away. Somehow I don't feel up to getting fancy, and if I can get my brother away from the football games long enough, I may just put my feet up while he does some cooking!
Happy and healthy holidays to those of us who get a nice bird on the table to carve and share with friend and family!
You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat matzos, the bread of affliction; for in haste did you come forth out of the land of Egypt; that you may remember the day when you came forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life.
No religion crosses my path save for the divinity of food, from cooking it to baking it to eating it. That said, with the holidays coming up I became interested in "Hot cross buns" and Anglo-Easter confection, to which I turned for baking clues everywhere from Andrew Whitley's book Bread Matters to blog posts from Dan Lepard and Elizabeth David.
Besides finding some interesting anecdotes, I also found some formulas to try. And try I did, throwing in spelt levain wheat, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and some German brot gewurze for spice, the plump cranberry and rasins mix for sweet chewiness. Here are the results.
Blasphemy's aside, I enjoyed the ritual, and even though I was on the fence about the cross bit, well I took the plunge and went for it.
I've made the symbolic gesture, it's the buns that count.
It's been a holiday of breads. My latest celebration has been around Roscón de Reyes, which translates from Spanish as "epiphany bread." Honestly, I stand in the abyss of religious ignorance, even if I am the son of both houses of Judeo and Christian faiths. Still, I feel secure in making breads that supposedly have some religious signifigance for either, as bread, besides man made food, is manna from heaven. Sorry, I do get carried away.
Anyway, I used a formula from my friend Javier Marca over at Madrid tiene miga (and his bread baking amigos - along with Google translation from the native Spanish). Their blogs are always an abundance of information. This week, they gave me the idea of aiming to bake the bread for January the 6th, which is Dia de los Reyes (or day of the Magi).
I took up the challenge of baking the bread with 100 percent sourdough. To which Javier tweeted, "Using sourdough, and only sourdough? Good... You might want to increase the quantity of sugar, though. And rum, that's for sure!"
Beyond his advice and my sour dough desires, I stuck to the traditional formula, improvising less with ingredients than visual ideas, namely creating a flourish of decorations. Well, here it is, end of the Holidays, and a begining of a new tradition in bread conquered!
The tips of my fingers are sore from minature cuts. My feet feel like blocks of stone. And my back, oy, my back. Don't you love the holidays?
Actually, whining aside, this year's season of turning out the party food was easier then in the past, considering I've been at my current kitchen longer then any other job in my career as a chef. Perhaps I'm operating on automatic pilot. But at least the pilot light stays on, despite working at an establishment that is a morph of Fawlty Towers and Upstairs Downstairs - with plenty of characters to go around, high to low.
Most of us do the best we can. Others do all they can to do absolutely the least they can! And it's always a catch up game: organise, think and act like your a skater with wings.
Happy Holidays to all you readers and god bless all good chefs, cooks and bakers. Oh yeah pastry chefs too... And remember, the customers are always right!
Into the heavy holiday cooking at work. Counting down the days like that famous carol - "on the last day my sous chef said to me...I quit your a twit and a partridge and a....etc." This year we haven't had a major hiccup or a total breakdown. Yet. That said, there are days I could write endless passages (or run-on sentences for a book on why chefs drink or go Gordon Ramsey on their cats/staff/wives/friends/whoever!) But it's Christmas and this year I endeavour to stay strong, hopefully not catch a cold, and above all make the customers happy, that is why we are here right? Servus!