Thursday, December 1


F* you, november!
today is the day.
the new debut of the last month of the year.
the final page in the calendar,
the first day of the grand finale-
yes, YES, y'all-
it's december, finally.
the deepest, darkest, doo-doo butteriest month-long mess
of make-believe merriment and holiday sentiments for all the boys and girls.
the whole month of december is like the last day of a vacation.
you wanna make it special,
and you don't want the looming doom and gloom
of really real life to intrude on the well-wishing wonders
of the obligatory big funtimes,
that's never the way it goes, bros.
no joke.
there's dead-ends and deadlines that loom overhead,
self-imposed plans that have been delayed
and allowed to stray from the linear timelines of start-to-finishing
by circumstances beyond my control,
but well within the limits of predictable probability.
if it always goes off with naught but hitches,
maybe preparing for the worst case, at all times,
is the most reasonable move to make?
bleak? maybe.
defeated? never
in fact,
i awoke to the whinging whines and complaints of crabtree,
instead of scolding his incessant mewling,
i laid out a spell of hopeful hop-hopping,
and spit it from my curse-filled scarred lips like my future depended on it.
...and it just might.
so, there.
i said the magic words to cultivate coincidence and foster good fortune,
because rules is rules.
and then what happened?
it never does.
but, saying it out loud is a good way to keep positive.
it's when we stop saying it that we accept it won't get any better.
rabbit! rabbit! 
the words were spoken,
the tradition continues regardless,
and yet i feel sorta like i did as a ne'er-do-well younger man,
on the night before a big project was due.
it's a mad dash to the finish,
pretending that i wasn't effing off and fooling around until the urgency of
an emergency last-ditch effort,
pressed and pressured to pull out of a nosedive tailspin of laziness.....
only, this time, all i did was what needed doing,
and there just wasn't enough time to accommodate needs AND ambitions,
labors of obligation and labors of love don't follow the same schedule
up here in the woodsly goodness.
what a weird sensation-
doing what i'm supposed to be doing,
and still feeling as if it's nowhere near enough by half.
that's a real bummer,
y'know what's NOT?
the bread situation here at the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress.
believe it,
when all else fails, as all else is prone to doing,
the crust and crumb seem to step it up by an order of magnitude.
take a look at this:

no, i mean, for real, though:

i've been inspired by some of the dreamy steam slit slices i've seen lately,
and i've been immitating, as a very sincere form of flattery:

i really reallllly like bread.
a whole lot.
and this exxxtra-crusty freeform,
straight on the stone,
steam-injected sexxxiness?
it has a caramelized crust,
huge oven spring,
and all the damned bubbles within those perfect gluten chains
that wild yeast and time could conjure up together.
for realsies,
if it takes a year of garbage to make solid gold bread?
i guess that's what we get.
that's a hard style, sure,
good bread makes better people.
maybe this p!sshole year has just been a preparation
for a whole other 'nother new adventure,
up, over, and beyond the nearest horizon!
that bread?
4 cups of white flour
1 cup of starter
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp wheat gluten
1 T salt.
yeah, i know,
that sugar is a dirty trick,
the crust gets so much darker and doper with it in there.
kneaded and bulked up on the countertop,
for a solid twelve hours,
with stretch and fold aeration happening at random intervals throughout.
a final shaping, and another quick bulk, maybe two hours,
in a banneton, covered, and allowed to form that sexxxy skin around it,
before a decent 10 hour cold proof, and another hourlong rise in the a.m.
as the oven heats to 455F.
i baked it directly on the stones for 25 minutes
before i added scalding water-
at least a quarter cup's worth, to the oven surface directly.
that's when i turn on the convection function,
and allow for steamy swirling to activate all those pentosans.
another 20 minutes, and we've got what you see here;
which is to say- the new hottness is in F*ing full effect.
word up.
and it's not just one loaf.
check the crust on this guy:

ground oat flour,
and fast-actin' oat flakes made this one a hearty party for my mouth.
i propose a toast, with vegan butter, and a cup of irish breakfast tea.
Tea 'N' Toast goes to eleven with this bread on hand.
that's a thing.
...and even when the dough is very wet,
perhaps more than i may have intended, actually.
and the proof is shortened,
because sometimes i need more bread right NOW,
i'm still pretty psyched on the results:

this one is a chia/sprouted whole wheat jaun.
it's damned good, too.
that's the big protein powerhouse loaf.
how'd it toast?
like a champ.
what am i?
an A*-hole?
i'm a home baker and home wrecker,
but never at the expense of others.
it's the last minute.
no sense in scurrying and hurrying now, though, y'know?
you'll only end up disappointed and exhausted.
i'm just sayin'-
there's only one month left to make this year not a total piece of sh!t.
a whole year down to about four and a half weeks' worth of work.
i can promise you the bread will be ready.
everything else might not;
never quiet, never soft.....

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