Sunday, December 13, 2009

San Francisco Love

Quite a bit of time has passed since I last wrote...and of course there have been a million things I should have written about and didn´t (what part of writing stuff down so I can remember it later do I not understand?) Felipe´s mom, also known as the lovely Doña Lucy, came to visit and stayed with us for 3 weeks, and the craziness of the end of the year has already been manifest in its full glory of goodbye parties, holiday get-togethers, frantic packing and end of the semester assignments. And it´s Hannukah and I barely realized it. I need to fry something in olive oil, like, right now. Or I could show you where we took Felipe`s conservative Christian mother:

Even being from San Francisco, I honestly have to say I was not prepared for the amount of naked transvestites I saw at the Buenos Aires Gay Pride Parade. There were more fake boobs and butts there than there are on a Colombian beach, which is a statement I never thought I would be able to make.

I also made a very strange discovery. Doña Lucy had asked me to teach her how to make whole wheat bread, and though she initially wanted it with chopped dried figs, prunes were all that the store had. (Colombians are big proponents of the deep fryer, not so much of the oven. Now that I think of it I think I should be exempt from Hannukah frying this year given all the frying we did when she was here.) I adapted a recipe for buckwheat-raisin bread that I love, replacing the raisins with prunes, and rye flour for the buckwheat, and when all was said and done, I took a bite...and was blasted back to San Francisco, circa 1989 (which would make me 4), blue stroller and all, when my mom used to give us whole wheat rolls with dried fruit and nuts. I don´t know where she bought them, and I haven´t had anything like them since, but I remember loving them, and in the moment I tried this bread I realized that it was the prunes that gave those little breads their distinctive flavor.

San Francisco Hippy Bread
adapted from Deborah Madison

The Sponge
1 1/4 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 1/3 c. bread or whole wheat flour
1/2 c. dry milk (or replace some of the warm water with an equal measure of warm milk)
3-4 Tbsp. molasses, honey, or a mixture (I use half and half blackstrap molasses and honey because I find the molasses too strong by itself but I like its flavor)

Mix everything together in a big bowl until smooth, then cover and set in a warm place for an hour, or two if your kitchen doesn´t have a warm place. You want it to be risen and bubbly when you finally stir it down for the next step.

The Bread
2 Tbsp. oil or melted butter
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. chopped prunes
1 c. walnuts, optional
1 c. rye flour
1-1 1/2 c. whole wheat or white flour
1 Tbsp. butter, optional

Stir down the sponge and add the oil, salt, prunes, walnuts, and rye flour. Add wheat flour until the dough clears the sides of the bowl, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until resilient, 5-10 minutes. You will probably need to add a bit of flour as you go as the prunes make everything a bit sticky; you don't want a super dry dough though, just add enough so that the dough is workable. Oil a bowl, form the dough into a ball, place in the oiled bowl and then turn it over so the top is lightly coated with oil. Cover the bowl and leave it to rise until it's doubled, 1-2 hours.
Lightly oil a 9 x 5 in. loaf pan. Gently deflate the dough, form it into a flat rectangle, and roll it up tightly so that it fits lengthwise into the loaf pan. Pinch the dough together to seal it and place it seal side down into the loaf pan. Cover loosely and let rise again until doubled, 40 min.- 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 F, and once the dough is risen bake the loaf for 45-55 minutes, until hollow-sounding when tapped. At this point you can brush the top with the tablespoon of butter, it gives the whole loaf a buttery taste that I love but that some people (hippy mothers die hard) would not approve of. Let cool before slicing...we're going to pretend that this happens, and that Felipe doesn't always want to immediately eat any and all warm bread in his vicinity. It is better though, as it is with almost all breads, to let it cool all the way down before cutting into it.

Pan Hipi de San Francisco
adaptado de Deborah Madison

La Esponja
1 1/4 taza de agua tíbia
una cucharada de levadura seca
1 1/3 taza harina de pan o integral (de trigo)
1/2 taza de leche en polvo (o reemplaza parte del agua tibia con la misma cantidad de leche tibia)
3-4 cucharadas de melaza, miel, o una mezcla (yo uso mitad miel de purga y mitad miel porque me gusta la melaza pero sola me parece que da un sabor demasiado fuerte)

Mezcla todo en un bol grande hasta que este bien incorporado, tapalo y dejalo en un lugar calientico por una hora, o dos si tu cocina no tiene un lugar calientico. Quieres que este con burbujitas y que haya crecido cuando ya lo vayas a usar en el siguiente paso.

El Pan
2 cucharadas de aceite o mantequilla derretida
1 3/4 cucharita de sal
una taza y media de ciruelas secas, picadas
una taza de nueces, opcional
una taza de harina de centeno
1-1 1/2 taza de harina de trigo integral o blanco
una cucharada de mantequilla, opcional

Revuelve la esponja y echale el aceite, la sal, las ciruelas, las nueces, y la harina de centeno. Añade la harina de trigo hasta que la masa se despegue de los lados del bol, despues echala a una superficie enharinada, y amasala hasta que este elastica, de 5 a 10 minutos. Es probable que vas a necesitar echar mas harina poco a poco mientras estas amasando porque las ciruelas hacen todo un poco pegajoso, pero echale por poquitos ya que tampoco quieres una masa muy seca, solo que se pueda trabajar con ella. Aceita un bol, haz una bolita con la masa, colocala en el bol y volteala para que la superficie este cubierta ligeramente con aceite. Tapa el bol y dejala reposar hasta que doble su tamaño, 1-2 horas.
Aceita ligeramente un molde de 22 x 12 cm. Desinfla la masa, y forma un rectangulo plano y ruedala apretadamente para que quepa a lo largo en el molde. Pellizca la masa para cerrarla y colocala con el cieere abajo en el molde. Tapala sin apretar y dejala crecer otra vez hasta que doble, 40 min.- 1 hora. Precalienta el horno a 180 C, y cuando la masa ya haya crecido horneala por 45-55 minutos, hasta que el pan suene vacío si le das un golpecito. En este momento puedes rozar la parte de arriba del pan con mantequilla, le da un sabor de mantequilla que a mi me encanta pero que a algunas (las mamas hipis quizas) no les gustaria. Dejalo enfriar antes de cortarlo...vamos a fingir que eso pasa y que no es que Felipe siempre quiere comer cualquier pan caliente que haya en sus inmediaciones. Igual es mejor, como con casi todos tipos de pan, dejarlo enfriar antes de cortarlo.

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