086 The Connection Between Cats and Grain

350990_600
Why is it that cats come from the same part of the world where people first figured out how to grow and store grain? Would we have bread if we didn’t have cats? In this podcast Kelly and Erik explore the ancient history, famous cats and take a detour into the world of distillery cats and ship’s cats.

Special thanks to Paul Koudounaris, whose lecture inspired this podcast, and the website Purr-n-Fur for information on ship’s and distillery cats.

Many thanks to our Patreon subscribers for making this podcast and blog possible.

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Sprouted Rye Class This Saturday!

IMG_7244 (1)

I’m teaching a rye bread class this Saturday May 14th at 10:45 AM at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Westchester. I’m going to walk you through how to start a rye sourdough starter, how to sprout grain and how to work with 100% rye doughs. There are still a few seats available so sign up soon. As a bonus, there will be a pizza lunch and community bread bake using the community oven built by Environmental Changemakers. To sign up for the class head over to the Los Angeles Bread Bakers Meetup Group.

How do I get started baking bread?

Josey_Baker_MAIN-800x375 (1)

The short answer to the question of how to get started baking bread is Josey Baker. His name is Baker, after all. While I’ve reviewed his book before, it’s worth repeating since I get asked for good bread recipes all the time.

Why do I like Josey Baker’s book? Baker is a former science educator. He’s good at explaining things in a clear, step-by-step manner. Many of the other bread books floating around right now are, in my opinion, overly lengthy and, often, confusing. Best of all, Baker emphasizes whole grain, sourdough fermented breads.

Baker has summarized all the popular methods out there right now in one place. Want to make a New York Times no-knead/Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day type loaf? No problem, that’s the first loaf in Baker’s book. Want to make a Tartine style loaf without reading a hundred pages of directions? No problem, that’s also in the book. Wan’t to graduate on to a style of whole wheat/sourdough breads pioneered by people like Baker and Miller? He’s got you covered. If that’s not enough, Baker also shares the excellent Cooks Illustrated Chocolate Chip cookie recipe as well as a recipe for moist scones (no, scones don’t have to be as dry as dog biscuits!).

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Baker and hosting him for a bread class here in LA. He’s a supremely nice guy, more than happy to share his expertise and spend hours answering hydration ratio questions. I don’t think there was a moment when he wasn’t smiling. His mentor is someone I consider to be the finest baker in the US right now, Dave Miller (who was profiled in Michael Pollan’s Cooked).

If you’re visiting San Francisco make sure to visit his bakery which is located within a cafe called The Mill.

How to Mix and Shape Dough Explained Without Words in Two Minutes

Some things to note about this video:

  1. Bakers use scales and so should you.
  2. Mixing dough entails making an incredible mess.
  3. Learning to shape dough requires practice.

As regards point #3, my plan is to mix up some practice dough (I use the dead dough recipe in the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook but any bread dough will do) and practice over and over. As a professional once told me when I complimented her on her pizza shaping prowess, “It’s because I’ve done it 10,000 times.” Practicing with dough you’re not going to bake takes out the fear of failure problem.

Thanks to Kathy Turk for alerting me to this video.

German Rye Bread Recipe

IMG_6938 (1)

You know those people who are so excited about something that they immediately post it to the interwebs without even a thought about, say, accuracy. Sometimes those folks are us. When it came time to teach a German rye bread class for the Los Angeles Bread Bakers, I took another look at the recipe on this blog and sent it to fellow LABBer Dana Morgan for testing and revision. Thanks to Dana I have now revised and re-posted that recipe here.

If you’re into sourdough, this is an easy loaf to bake. There’s not much in the way of shaping and you don’t even have to slash the loaf before it goes in the oven. And unlike the white bread that passes for rye in the US, this loaf is actually made out of mostly rye. It does have some white flour in it, but just enough to allow making a hearth loaf.

If you’re in the LA area, I’ll be teaching some more rye classes this year. Sign up for the Los Angeles Bread Bakers on Meetup.com and you’ll get all the announcements and invites.