Saturday, August 27, 2016


Getting ready to head to Dave's office with him and the J so she (okay, let's be honest, WE) can play Minecraft and other games with their ocular gameplaying thingy*. Sorry for the lack of technical jargon, but I can't remember what it's really called. Before we go, however, I wanted to get out a quick review of last week's Tassajara sesame wheat bread.

Right up front I'm going to have reserve final judgement on this bread as the oven went on the fritz right in the middle of baking it, and I think I over-processed the sesame seeds when I ground them. But the bread felt wonderful during the kneading--if very dense and stiff. It rose very well during the sponge stage and the first two rising, it didn't rise as much as I thought it would when shaped into loaves.

The flavor was distinctly sesame, but also had a bitter note at the end due to my grinding raw, unhulled sesame seeds instead of hulled ones. I bought what was available at Whole Foods (unhulled), and when I got home and reread the recipe for sesame meal (from the InterWeb), it called for hulled. So I looked up the difference between them, and Cook's Illustrated informed me that unhulled are much higher in calcium and also a bit more flavorful, but that the flavor is tinged with a bitterness absent in the hulled seeds. I figured I'd go ahead and try the unhulled to see how the bitterness would play out, and I am not a fan. Of course the problem may have been the recipe (or my making of it) for the sesame meal. The instructions were to cook the seeds in a heavy, unoiled pan until they turned a darker color and started popping, and then to grind them in a blender until they were crumbly but not a paste. My first batch was half crumbly, half pastey. The second batch was better.

The bread recipe called for three cups of sesame meal, "more if you can stand it". I used about three, but it was hard to measure exactly as the recipe was expecting a meal which is not nearly as dense as the somewhat-paste I had so I may have used more. It definitely took more wheat flour at the end than the recipe called for in order to balance it out and get it to stop sticking.

After the oven pooped out (low temps then high temps), and the bread got a bit burned on top, I didn't taste it till the next day. The loaves weren't as high as I thought they would be, and the bread was really dense. The flavor was interesting--more bitter and less sweet than I like in a dark bread, but maybe I just need to pair it with an appropriate food for the flavors to shine. Bread by itself is like wine by itself: Some stand alone fine, but others need to be paired with just the right food to engender an out-of-body experience in the consumer.

The other thing I need to say about this bread is that it seems that I had significant colonic difficulty digesting it. It reminded me of the time that Dave made huckleberry cobbler with mesquite flour when we were visiting my uncle and aunt in Phoenix with my mom. We all like to have died that night as we apparently don't have the bacteria, enzymes, whatever, in our systems to digest that much of that kind of grain. It wasn't like food poisoning, it was definitely a too-much-of-something-you-can't-digest-all-at-once problem.

The final verdict: Not yet a keeper, need to try again.

*I have been informed it's an oculus rift.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I'm sorry, but that sounds pretty uncomfortable.