Friday, December 05, 2008


I’ve often written about how disappointed I am with local pizza. It’s an East Coast food branding thing. I won’t get over it. I can barely stand the take-and-bakes. Papa Murphy’s is the only local take-and-bake that doesn’t activate my gag reflexes. Sorry Fred Meyer, Safeway and Costco, but your pizzas are revolting.

Anyway, I made a hand thrown pizza last Thursday. That’s right a Positive Happy Givings pizza; get over it. Starting with a cup and a quarter of very warm water and some yeast, a pinch of sugar and salt, one brings life to the flour as it is slowly added and eventually kneaded.

Kneading bread somehow sparks a genetic memory for me. My fathers’ family owned and operated a bakery in the town I came from. It was in operation from the late 1920s and it was closed before I was born in 1955. As a child I knew where the bakery had been and rode by it often on my bicycle. I looked into the windows and tried to imagine seeing all my relatives at younger ages running the shop. I never did learn why the bake shop closed, but I suppose it was due to the death of my grandfather and the rest of his children wanting to earn better money in local industries.

It seems the understanding of bread has been unintentionally passed down to me. People say the bread I make is good, however I nearly always find fault in it. Either I don’t like the crust or the bubbles of gluten are just too small or too uniform for my liking. Eventually I give up bread making out of disgust, but somehow I eventually find myself kneading dough again. Maybe this time I will get it right, yet I doubt I will ever get it right.


Blogger loopymamain06 said...

My mother talks of memories in detroit where every neighborhood had many ethnic bakeries. I grew up eating all manners of bread, and am not above a good pumpernickle or father made a very good homemade bread, maybe because he had five sisters.

5:09 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

I made all our bread for a few years when the kids were small. Something about wintertime makes me want to bake bread again, and I have my eye on an oatmeal bread recipe. Trouble is, it's no-knead, and I love the kneading part of bread-making.

5:12 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

I like my bread "crusty". Evidently.

6:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me Mum is a fine bread baker, hot out of the oven with butter and honey, mmmm mmmm mmmm, whole wheat- such a treat.
Some say it's the mineral content of the water coming out of the Catskills that makes the NY crust so good. Or maybe the sky high temperature of the wood/coal fired brick/stone ovens that cook those delectable pies in about 5 minutes. Westerners rave about "home on the range" (GE) cooked pizza, but I use lots of olive oil in the crust and bake it at a paltry 425 for about 25 min. It's really good, but New Yorkers sneer at the idea of using oil in the crust and taking so long to bake. I'll put my sauce up against any body's though. Can't stand Domino's sauce but kids and their little immature taste buds sure like it.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and as far as the kneading goes me Mum always slams the ball of dough to the bread board numerous times throughout the kneading process and she always rips the dough as apposed to cutting it with a knife when dividing into loaves.

10:14 AM  
Blogger weese said...

my wife tried for years to make bread. we all kept tasting it and telling her it was getting better each time (not). the kids finally bought her a bread machine -- whew.

1:11 PM  
Blogger loopymamain06 said...

Anon had some good reminders....slamming the dough down helps to get rid of some air pockets, just as in slamming the clay when making pottery, and i remember somthing about tearing as opposed to cutting....personally I make a better pie crust, than bread.
da loop

4:26 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Loopy, funny you mentioned ethnic bakeries. I had a canoli in Portland the other day. It was the first in 30 years since I last visited an Italian bakery in New Jersey.

Donna, flour on the hands is a wonderful feeling and the warm living mass you are kneeding. It's like massaging life itself.

Auntie, "Evidently" is something I haven't heard from you in a while.

Anon, are you a royal subject living in the Catskills? I miss the Beaverkill and Esopus (sp) I spent a lot of time up there wile in my 20s. Yes, slapping the bread is what I often do for pizza, but I'm presently trying to get larger holes in the bread. I'll explain that in an article soon.

Weese, bread machines are amazing, but lacking in the contact. To me it's like the difference in sending someone a hand written card and sending an internet card.

Loops, That's a whole other are and science.

6:13 AM  

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