Over the past few weeks we’ve started to build a little community here in our quiet mountain town. In addition to ex-pats, we’ve also befriended Nik, the owner of a local café. Nik makes the only real yogurt (as in, just milk and cultures) in this town, and some tasty soft breads. She invited us to bring ingredients to her kitchen one day, where she taught us some Thai recipes.
To return the favor, Lauren had a brilliant idea. Given that Nik has a blender that she uses for her bakery, she thought that we could teach her how to make peanut butter. She would be able to sell it along with her bread, and I wouldn’t need to spend 30 minutes with a mortar and pestle making barely spreadable peanut butter. This Saturday we stopped by after lunch with a bag of peanuts and gave Nik a demonstration. She loved it! She then mentioned to us how she wanted to be able to make crustier breads. We told her that we’d have to do some research but we’d give it a shot tomorrow.
While we’ve played with various quick-breads and challah, we’ve never tried our hand at rustic, crusty breads. Fortunately, I remembered a book that I discovered just before we left on sabbatical called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It is conveniently available on the Kindle, so in 10 seconds we had our preparatory material in hand.
We spent Sunday morning getting familiar with the highly rated “master bread recipe”, and after lunch it was time to test it out. The recipe involves four ingredients (flour, water, yeast, and salt), minimal active work, a few tricky steps (with pictures that help immensely) and a decent amount of waiting time. About 5 hours after mixing the ingredients we opened the oven and, just like the book had described, the browned crusty loaves crackled on their way out. It was a slightly longer demonstration process than the peanut butter. :)
We went upstairs to join the local yoga class while the loaves cooled. Our baking timing couldn’t have been better. I skipped sivasana to cut up one of the four loaves, and served samples of bread and peanut butter to the exiting yogis. We had rave reviews all around, and the remaining three loaves sold in about 30 seconds flat. Nik also sold a few jars of peanut butter to the yogis.
Over the past few days Nik’s been practicing the bread recipe and I’ve stopped by during my lunch breaks to provide tasting and marketing advice. Today’s batch came out excellent. Capacity building has never been more fun!