Thursday, 30 June 2011

Bread and some great news

It may not be the prettiest picture, but it's special to me.  No fancy camera, just a little point and shoot.  It was a braided rich dough, full of butter and sugar, that I had knead and knead with my hands, late in the afternoon, under a grey cloudy sky.

Soft light.

Click click.  Click click.

The photo flashed up on the camera screen and I couldn't believe what I saw.  A seed was planted in me then.  I want to take more photos, of bread and of food, under that soft light.

Nearly 3 years since that photo was taken, I'm still making bread, still taking photos of them.

I have always loved making bread, despite the various failures I've had.  It has taught me to wait, for bread cannot be hurried.  It takes time, and gentle hands to make a loaf.  Working with flour is such a therapeutic and pleasurable process.  There's something incredibly soul satisfying about making bread that is hard to describe.  Make it, and you will see.

The Tartine Bread book had changed everything.  I've heard about the Tartine Bakery when a friend of mine sent me this link to the Selby's page.  His photographs were amazing and I wanted to learn more about it.  Then, almost on cue, I've spotted the Tartine book sitting on the shelf at my favourite cafe a few weeks later.  I poured over the recipes over many Saturday brunches and finally took the plunge and bought both books.

I was so excited when I got the Tartine Bread book, and read the first 100 or pages in one go.  Chad (and Elizabeth too) is an amazing baker, but he is also an amazing teacher and writer.  I read the process of basic country loaf, time and again, running the intervals between each step in my head, and drew timelines and marked them with notes and arrows that only makes sense to me.  All the while, the starter made from stoneground flour from a local mill, was taking shape.  It smelt unlike other I've made -- it was beery and sweet, just as Chad had written.  The soul of the bread was ready.  

I took the time, all day, to work the dough and let it rise.  Then came the evening and I baked in my little broken oven, with its near non-existant seal, hot spots close to the doors and a single working element -- the grill.  I forged ahead, cranked up the oven and baked and baked until I thought my oven would give up and my favourite pot would break.

But the results were incredible.  It looked and smelt like real bread.  Even though they were far from perfect, these were the best breads I've ever made, with nothing more than just flour and water.  This is the kind of bread I want to make.

I have some fabulously exciting and incredible news -- I have won the CLCSF auction as of yesterday afternoon!  The proceeds from this auction is used to build the Conductive Education Center of San Francisco, a centre that practice the philosophy of Conductive Education, in environment for which children with motor disorders and developmental delays can learn, grow and build confidence.  Please donate to them if you have any spare money -- it's a great cause.

This item I was bidding for is very special -- to spend a day as an apprentice to Chad at the Tartine Bakery.  Excited is an understatement!

How things have changed.  A year ago, I had quit my last job, somewhat awkwardly and painfully.  I had thoughts of travel, but it was never acted on.  When spurred by a friend, I had paid for my first round the world ticket -- to Europe and the US, with the Tartine Bakery firmly planted in the itinerary.  Who would have thought that nearly 4 months later, there will be an auction, and that I have out bided everyone, and I will be working in the bakery, even if it's just for a day?

Incredible luck, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. More than luck! Lots of hard work and passion. Congratulations!