Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 Thus Far: Hardy Winter Wheat Bread

-This is going to be one of those rather uninspired posts where I moan and make lists. Fair warning.-

2013 To-Do List

1. Buy a house. See this post. 

2. Find a new job. Right at the end of December I was let go from my job, which means I'm sustaining myself off of savings that I have been hoarding for a home down payment, some income from writing, and my husband's wages. You can bet I champagne'd myself into oblivion on New Years. I'll write another post on this whole staying at home all day thing later, but as of right now I see this as an opportunity to find the right job that'll make me happy.

I've just never been let go before and this whole thing is sorta scaring the crap out of me. I've also learned that one of the government requirements to sign up for unemployment is, apparently, shame. Oh, and judgment. It's in the fine print, I believe.

How am I filling time now? Lots of volunteering at other amazing nonprofits, writing, cooking, and catching up on a few books I have meant to read. Oh, and job hunting. (Probably should put that at the top of the list, right?) We're still looking for a house as owning is actually the cheaper option right now and we're still in a darn good place to do so.

Yay being money smart.

3. Plan a seriously slamming book tour. The Book comes out this Fall, and should be available for pre-order this March. My book partner and I plan to do lots of cheese tasting classes, speak at a few conferences about cheese and book writing, do some tastings at restaurants, and a few awesome giveaways, not to mention some radio and hopefully TV spots. It'll be a whirlwind month in October and I cannot wait. 

There will be a call later on this year. When we have a greater bearing on what the book tour will be we'll ask you guys for help. Want us to come to your city and do a restaurant event or cheese class? We'd love to if you think we can get a good crowd to attend. Plus, Steph and I would love to meet fellow curd nerds and mac fanatics. 

-The readers get what the readers want.-

4. Beef Bourguignon. For four years this has been on my to-do list. Four years. And somehow it still gets away from me. WTF? 

Beef, onions, wine and go. Garrett, get off Craigslist and get yourself into the kitchen. You can spend a few bucks on good beef and a cheap bottle of wine. Things aren't that tight (yet)!

5. Land more freelance writing gigs. It's so easy to become complacent and let the proposal writing sort of flitter away under current, more demanding projects and commitments. I recently just sent out a flurry of proposals due to my recent unemployment and I'm kinda irked with myself that it took a major event like that to kick my butt into gear.

Also, I'm sending them to people who I generally assume will either A) ignore me, or B) devour me alive for being so naive as to crawl to their throne and beg for opportunities as non-famous writers are wont to do. Given, the worst that happens is they give me a resounding, "Ha ha, no. Now get out of my office. Who let you in here anyways?" or I hear nothing back at all and that is infinitely worse because hearing nothing causes you to either berate yourself as a rather pathetic noob not deserving notice or, like me, you think they obviously lost the first e-mail so you send a few million follow-ups. 

There is always the chance of, C) they say yes. Option C doesn't happen nearly often enough. I blame the economy and rise of the internet with its stupid bloggers (I know, shut up) for quietly assassinating the publishing world and killing all the writing jobs that existed when I was a child. 

6. Take some refresher courses in bread baking. My skills aren't up to snuff anymore.

I used to bake bread all the time in college. Olive and onion loves, wheat bread, chocolate bread, braided loaves of challah, crackly boules laced with garlic... I did it all. Yet, for the last nine years I just stopped, with the only recent bread making being the flatbread I did every day at my baking externship.  

I've had Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg on my shelf for a while now. It's been patiently sitting there like a dog with a ball in its mouth waiting for me to come around and give it some attention. I have time on my hands now, so I finally gave it a run.

Summarily, it's a fabulous book. It makes homemade bread making a lot quicker and more accessible so for those of you who have nearly zero time on your hands this is a great resource that actually does what it claims. The recipes are easy and forgiving so if you botch it up by letting it rise too long, forgetting about it, or you have a tendency to mis-measure then you're still going to get great results.

After cutting my teeth on some of the beginner recipes I went ahead and developed a pretty simple winter wheat bread based off the basic boule: lots of whole wheat flour, some salt, and ground up cocoa nibs and cardamom pods. It's a dense, earthy loaf that posseses a tinge of bitterness that you can grit your teeth on. When you smell it baking it reminds me of the smell of the air when I used to pass by wheat fields when I visited family in Kansas. Smear that bastard boule with butter and a snowfall of good salt and you are in for a lovely treat that pairs well with chai tea.

While I still want to take some classes to polish my skills this book is a fabulous start for the meantime. My winter boule isn't in the book but if you make it and like it then I promise you that this is a book you need on your shelf.

Now, back to the grind of resume writing and cover letter development. Ugh. Pray for me.

Garrett out.

Hardy Winter Wheat Bread
Makes 4 1-pound loaves
This recipe uses ground cardamom and cocoa, but if you have a spice grinder then use whole pods and cocoa nibs for better flavor.

2 packets of yeast (use whatever yeast you choose)
3 cups lukewarm water
4 1/2 cups of 100% whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1. Place the water, salt and yeast in a large bowl, tupperware, or pot with a lid but that isn't airtight (the lid can be just ajar if need be to accomplish this). I do mean big. Mix together the flours, cardamom, and cocoa in a bowl and dump it all in at once. Mix with a spoon until it all comes together. You don't need to knead. Just bring it together until it's uniform.

2. Cover with the lid (not airtight) and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then pop it in the fridge to rest overnight or for at least 3 hours.

4. Cut off a grapefruit sized chunk and form it into a ball, the rest can be stored for up to a week (you should get about 4 loaves). The best way to do this is to grab some dough from the top and pull it to the bottom. The ball will become smooth-ish and the bottom will look like a top-knot of sorts. Place the ball down on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal and allow it to rest and rise for 40 minutes.

5. 20 minutes before baking preheat the oven to 450F with a baking sheet or pizza slab inside it.

6. With a quick jerking motion slide the risen ball of dough onto the hot pan in the oven. On the lower oven rack place a roasting pan with some hot water (this will help you achieve a crackly crust). Bake for 30 minutes. Rest bread on a wire rack until cool to the touch.

Other Recipes That Don't Suck
Honey Wheat Bread - Two Peas and Their Pod
Tangzhong Wholemeal Loaf - Christine's Recipes
No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread - Leite's Culinaria


  1. Oh Garrett! Sorry you were let go. That makes me sad.
    I was reading a site (of course I can't remember which) and it was talking about 'how to' and 'how not to' blog. It said 'don't tell long dramatic stories unless you're good at it, like Vanilla Garlic.' It was sweet. I'm sure you saw the link :)

    Chin up, buttercup!
    Thinking of you,

    1. Thanks, Christina. Yeah, hopefully things will turn around quickly.

  2. How do you get the top of the finished loaf to have that cut look?

    1. Slash the bread with a tic-tac-toe design before baking. =)

  3. Baaah, I know the pain of rejection and no writing jobs. Read The Clicking of Cuthbert, by P.G. Wodehouse. Not only is it possibly the funniest story I've ever read, it also has a small bit about being kicked in the face by editors that cheers me up consistently (perhaps in some morbid way).


    1. Thanks, Laura. I can use some good reading right now. =)

  4. Come to Chicago! We have a couple of awesome spaces I can think of off the top of my head. Deb from Smitten Kitchen was at this great independent book store called the Book Cellar. They sell wine and coffee in their little cafe. Or we have a cooking school/store called The Chopping Block that has good demo space. I'm sure I could come up with more, but this is just off the top of my head.

    1. Good places to know! I'll keep these in my pocket, S.

  5. Bummer! The bread sounds great. I have that cookbook and made almost everything in it the first couple of months and then got lazy and haven't made any good bread in a while. Looking forward to your book. Wishing you the best. Happy to be in the Sacto area so I can come to a cheese tasting. The Nugget in EDH would be great!

    1. JenM, we will probably do quite a few events in the Sac region. =)

  6. Sorry to hear about being let go, and right before Christmas. What is your dream job that you really want to do? I hope it's baking because your bread turned out beautiful even though you haven't been baking for awhile. Maybe if you create a niche bread product, you could start selling them at farmers markets and then grow from there?

    1. Nope, it wasn't a dream job. It was a good job and the people there rock as does the mission, but it just wasn't a good fit for my skills or my desired work culture.

  7. Im a little confused at the, "cut off a piece this size," line. I assume this means there is dough left over to bake at another time? And if such is the case, would you recommend cutting the recipe in half if one wanted to bake the whole go at once? My gray rainy tuesday is much better with your snark to brighten it, thank you garret! -Sparrow

    1. I would just bake it all at once if you want. The recipe makes four loaves, but the amount of work is the same.

  8. Sorry to hear that let you go Garrett, i will pray that you will get job soon.
    By the way bread turned out good dense piece, love homemade bread.

  9. Bread looks great...would be wonderful warm with a smear of butter! Speaking of beef bourguignon...I've made Julia Child's recipe a couple times and it was very good, however, last night we ate dinner at a locally owned place where we live and they had a version of it. Beef(filet mignon) bourguignon over parmesan risotto!!! It has been freezing cold here and that dish was the perfect comfort food on a cold winter's evening. Filet is my favorite cut of beef. It was worth every cent. Would love to see you post the recipe you use so I can try it out.

  10. Stoked to have found your blog, where have I been?? Bummed about your job situation but maybe a good time to reevaluate bucket lists and what nots :) off to subscribe now!

  11. Rooting for you, Garrett! I'm excited for your book to come out this fall...a book devoted to melty cheese is totally up my alley. Hopefully you'll be doing some events in NY too?

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  13. Sorry to hear about your job. Hope things get better soon!
    I know you probably won't venture out as far as Europe for the book tour, but if you do, please please please come to London! It would be great to meet you guys and get a signed copy :)
    This bread looks quite intriguing. I've never seen cocoa or cardamom in a bread! It's kind of hard to imagine actually, but I might just try it!
    Good luck with house hunting too!

  14. that loaf looks really good!:D


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