Sunday, 3 August 2014
DAYS OLD BREAD
There is a famous modern bread book that all bakers (new and old) have on their book shelf these days, called Tartine. It is a bakery in San Fransisco - and besides having great recipes, this book has cool as hell photos and makes bread and the life of a baker look glamorous, hopelessly cool and super stylish. For me it wasn't (totally) these gorgeous moody shots that made me love the book, it was the section in the back about using day old bread.
All European countries have 'old bread' recipes. In Spain they blitz it with ripe tomatoes, peppers and cucumber and drink it cold as a refreshing soup. We pour lashings of custard and cream over it and bake it as a bread and butter pudding. In Italy, the list is never ending.
The sourdough that we make lasts days and days. The first day it is fresh and soft and can be eaten alone (I often have eaten half the loaf that I take home from the bake on the train before I even reach South London). The next day, it will make wonderful toast with tons of butter and marmite; the next it will make great cheese toasties, salads, soups, breadcrumbs and croutons....
What a great versatile thing. Besides all the obvious health benefits of eating long fermented loaves; I think it should be the long life of the bread that we also get excited about. Perhaps we can even justify the large price tag that comes with artisan breads, after all, it doesn't sprout green fluff after two days and if you are clever you can make up to three meals- a bit more than just something to make a sandwich with!
As my bakery training continues, I am realising that this life is a far cry from the instagramed photos of San Francisco bakeries with nice outfits and post bake surf sessions at dawn. Instead, you are grubby and covered in flour at all times and the only thing I ever seem to find myself doing after the bake is falling asleep on the tube. I do though, feel quite 'wholesome' (which in turn does feel a bit smug, possibly even glamorous) when three days later I am making a rustic Italian bread salad or smothering ripe avocado and red onion on toast.