In summer, when our gardens and markets are filled with fresh and flavorful foods, bread serves as a quiet complement to our meals, adding structure and strength, but staying mostly out of the way. But when the days get shorter, wetter, and colder, we start to ask more of our bread--and our bakers. We want our bread to lend a bit more of a hand with flavor, to add some heft to warm soup and some life to canned vegetables. Like all desires, this one can go too far, in my opinion -- I draw the line at baking a sausage directly into a loaf of bread -- but you can expect to start seeing more nuts, seeds, and dried fruits in my breads.
Last week I anxiously offered a walnut-raisin sourdough, and had more buyers than I did loaves, so I will offer that again this Thursday. I also make a similar version with dried cranberries, so expect to see a few loaves of that on hand as well. I will also have Country French sourdough and a sandwich loaf of some kind, most likely semolina-sesame seed sourdough.
I bought a large bag of walnuts at the farm stand in Yreka this week, and have been shelling and toasting them. Walnuts stain dough terribly, giving an uneven purple-gray cast to the crumb, but most people believe these nuts make up for their inhospitable aesthetic relationship to dough with their flavor and crunch.
I have been experimenting this week with Challah, a tricky bread to make with sourdough. With a bit of luck I will have rolls made from this dough available, which I am hoping to perfect in time for Thanksgiving. Perhaps I'll bring a few braided loaves as well. Sourdough Challah is not often found, at least in this country, (I've never seen it offered commercially) and I am enjoying the challenge of working with this enriched dough in the way it was made for many centuries before the advent of commercial yeast.
I look forward to seeing you all Thursday, from 5:00 to 7:00 on Main Street!