March 24, 2009

B(re)aking Bread with Friends

Let me first begin by saying that I am VERY proud of my title for this post. I guess I did learn something from all the feminist theory essays I had to read in college; these essays encouraged me to "(re-)create my inn(her) voice--a voice that is w(holy) womyn." Or sometimes they just wanted me to "de-/re-construct my post-9/11 gendered identity." Are you confused? Because I am--and so is one of my "inn(her)" selves. I'm not sure which of my selves is confused, but as soon as I identify that zone of instability, I'll let you know. If you're still reading, that is...


OK. Welcome to this post, everyone. This entry will happily skip across a meadow filled with bread, friends, and Spring Break cheer. Try and find a better combination of topics--I dare you! (And while I'm at it, I'll dare all of your fragmented inn(her) selves, too!)

My Spring Break was spent baking and breaking bread with two lovely ladies: Bridget from Perpetually Creating and Jaime from Chicago. Lovely Bridget and I got together early on in the break to engage in some yeast bread action. She invited me to her home, fed me, let me pet her dogs, and sat me in front of piles of awesome raw food books while our dough was rising. Let the music commence: These are a few of my faavooriite thiiiings... (Thanks, Bridget!)

I had a great time baking bread with Bridget. I'm new to the yeast bread scene, and as a beginner, I approach yeast bread recipes with care--so many things can go wrong! My brain floods with hundreds of questions and doubts: Is the yeast any good? Why isn't the yeast proofing? Did I add too much salt? Will my bread rise in this temperature? Why isn't it rising?! Why am I an imperfect womyn?! Bridget has way more experience with yeast breads than I, and I took plenty of mental notes as we waited for our ingredients to work their magic.

Bridget's wheat buns (and a bun in the oven!)

Our yeast was a little cranky, indignantly refusing to rise to its full baby-bum potential. However, when it was all said and done, we ended up with some tasty bread! Bridget made whole wheat rolls, and I made two loaves of spelt/whole wheat bread.
Me (re-)negotiating the feminist identity of my spelt bread (robbed from Bridget's blog)

Bridget has some special dough rising in her womb, and it made me happy to know that the little peanut got to feast on our yeasty efforts! It's never too early to introduce a baby to the intoxicating splendors of spelt flour. Sadly, this last sentence will probably never make it into a parenting manual. People jus' don' know...

Then, later in the week, my beautiful & bejeweled friend, Jaime, came to visit from the windy hinterlands of Chicago.
Feather-eared, widgeting womyn

Jaime had a birthday this month, so I bought her Molly Wizenberg's new food memoir, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. Isn't the cover pretty?Visits from Jaime are always inspiring, and it seems that no matter how much time has passed, she and I find new and magical ways to gel together--like water to flour. Jaime doesn't cook or bake as much as some, but I had to--just HAD to--give her Molly's dream-of-a-book. (Some of you might be familiar with Molly's blog, Orangette. It's a delight!) Jaime's voice and style remind me so much of Molly's: dreamy, poetic, and infused with clouds and cream. Both of them have such a way of making little things--like crystallized ginger, or feather earrings--into the ecstatic monumental, and I admire them for that.

Jaime and I ended up baking Molly's Ginger, Banana & Chocolate Quick Bread together. Bananas? Ginger? Chocolate? How could a womyn resist? We certaintly couldn't. It was fun getting into the quick bread baking zone with a close friend. Quick breads don't elevate your neuroses in the same way that yeast breads do; they're not as sensitive as their yeasty brethren, and thus demand less of your attention. The process of measuring, stirring, whisking, and combining can be rather calming and meditative.

Jaime whisking the dry ingredients--with rad purple nails!

After popping our silky, ginger-studded dough into the oven, we laid back and admired Mr. Mushroom and Bella, a married troll couple from the village of Trolldom.

We bought these creatures from U.S. Trolls, a magical troll boutique in the heart of Wilmington. The Finnish woman who runs this troll operation out of the front room of her home sprinkled magic dust on our heads and everything! If you ever visit Southeastern North Carolina, please make U.S. Trolls your #1 stop.

A visit from Jaime was just what I needed to re-energize myself for the final stretch of the semester. No matter how many piles of essays I find myself treading through these last couple of weeks, I can rest assured knowing that I am protected by Finnish magic dust. And Molly's magic bread. And the love of new friends and old friends.
Molly's Amazing Banana Bread
(if I wouldn't have taken it out of the oven a few minutes too soon)

I wouldn't leave you without a recipe, dear souls. Before Jaime arrived, I baked her this 3-way lavender infused quick bread. This bread is SURE to get your innards ready for all the troll-inspired joy this new season has to offer!

Lavender Tea Bread
(1 loaf)

See this post for directions on how to make lavender sugar, lavender milk, and lavender extract. This recipe calls for all three. However, if you are stretched for time and need this bread NOW, you can still get a flowery bread by using only lavender milk. Lavender milk only takes about 30-45 minutes for the flavors to really take hold.

2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1 cup lavender sugar
1 cup lavender rice milk
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. lavender extract
1 tsp. dried culinary lavender buds

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, add the vinegar to the lavender rice milk, and let sit for 5 minutes.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until combined. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir just until combined. Fold in the dried lavender buds.

3. Pour dough into a greased bread loaf, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. After 10 minutes, remove from the bread pan, and allow to cool until you can't wait any longer!


Breedale said...

Awesome post again! You are too kind! I love that you went to the troll shop. I have always wondered about the troll lady. I have never been, but have heard stories. I love your quick breads too. They look great! Now you will have to teach me how to infuse things with herbs. I have never stepped foot into that realm. PS. I am wearing the same skirt today at work so it was weird to open your blog and see it there!

Paul Allor said...

Great post, Jada!

In my mind, whenever I hear baking I always think of cupcakes and tarts and similarly frilly, sugary treats. So I never really got into baking, because:

1. I am diabetic, and
2. I am a manly man

But baking bread ... that sounds appealing.

Jada Ach said...


Maybe rye or pumpernickle would be a good manly bread to begin with. "Pumpernickle" isn't the most macho of words, but the flavor is pure steel & glass shards, baby...

Then, once it has baked and cooled, you can slice it with a jig saw.

Just a thought.

Jada Ach said...

Woops--I meant "pumpernickel." The word is so manly I can't even spell it!

Hadley Gets Crafty said...

This womyn is a fan of no knead breads. We could further this play on words to list the litany of things that the modern womyn no kneads, despite the pull of herstory. Teehee! You crack me up. Seriously, though, that is some good looking bread.

If you find your way in Chicago (I noticed your pal is from here) you should swing by. Say hi to the Flagstavians for me! <3

Hadley Gets Crafty said...

I meant to say, "if you find your way TO Chicago". I've fallen the way of the pumpernickel.