I tend to forget about Brioche during summer time, but when the cold weather is back at our door I can’t resist baking some, just to be able to dip it into hot chocolate or coffee.
Brioche may have its origins in the Middle Ages, when similar viennoiseries were already baked. However the origin of the name “Brioche” is unsure. Some believe that it draws its name from the town of Brie, and that Brie cheese was originally added to the dough, and some believe that Brioche was named after the Briochins, inhabitants of the town St Brieuc, in Brittany. Considering the sheer amount of butter that Brioche contains, and knowing the love of Breton’s people for butter (and being Breton myself), I would go for the latter option!
“Around the world with 80 Breads" is a great site for anybody interested in bread and cultures. Put together by Jean-Philippe Girard, Jean-Philippe de Tonnac et Jean-Francois Barbier, this beautifully illustrated site follows the path of Gustain, a young bread tasting reporter who travels the world to find out about other culture’s daily bread.
Rye, The Finnish Secret Weapon.
If you’ve been visiting Nordic countries, you have probably noticed that most of the old buildings are red or yellow. The red type is traditionally made with a mixture of rye, iron sulfate and red pigment - in the old days, earth was used as the pigment. The rye acts a binder, the sulfate prevents rotting and the pigment is the die.
In Finland, red pain emerged circa 1500 and was very popular because of its low cost and long lasting wood protection properties. One coat was enough to last 50 years. In the 1800s, fashion took over for a while and yellow emerged as a trendy choice, but only wealthy families could afford yellow pigment. Besides, yellow pigment does not protect the wood against UVs as red pigment does.
In her book “Rye, the Finnish Secret Weapon” (Ruis, Suomalaisten Salainen Ase, in Finnish), Ulla Rauramo gives several recipes for red paint. Here’s one of them:
3kg Iron sulfate
4,5kg good rye flour
12kg of red earth
2 kg salt
3l of varnish
In a thick-bottomed pan, mix 10 liters of cold water and slowly mix in the rye flour avoiding lumps. Cook this porridge for 1,5 hours, paying attention not to burn the mixture. If burnt, start from scratch as it will spoil the paint. Outside, insulate a big barrel with rock wool and make a fire underneath. Bring 40 liters of water to the boil. Mix in the Iron sulfate with a big paddle. Add the rye porridge and bring back the boil. Add the red pigment in very small batches while mixing continuously. Boil for 15mns. If the paint is not used straight away, mix in the salt, this will keep the mixture for a week. Add the varnish and cool it down. Done.
Sometimes at the end of July, we decided to hit the road for a little drive towards the eastern part of Finland to explore the area around Porvoo and Loviisa…but to make the journey even more interesting, I took the opportunity to stop and say Hi to Kristina from Malmgård and stock-up in flour. Amongst the 20kg of flour I bought, some Einkorn (triticum monococcum) flour found its way to the shopping bag.
Einkorn is the earliest cultivated form of wheat, domesticated around 7500BC in the Fertile Crescent. Domesticated Einkorn is similar to wild einkorn except that the ears stay intact when ripe and the seeds are larger. Domesticated forms of Einkorn were naturally pollinated by weed species, which gave rise to Emmer, which in turn gave rise to Spelt.
Einkorn is a hulled wheat, which means that it has a persistent enclosing hull. When a spike of hulled wheat is threshed, it breaks up into its component spikelets each enclosing one or more grains. This characteristic requires the mill to work differently in order to be able to extract the kernels without damaging it. Not all mills can do this and Kristina works with a miller who has the required skills to yield flour out of Einkorn spike.
The above bread is a sourdough bread that went through a 24hrs fermentation and contains 50% einkorn for 50% aniina wheat, also from Malgård. It surely has a distinctive taste. I can only encourage passionate bakers to work - at least once - with old wheat species and forget for a moment the obsession with strong gluten. Introducing 50% of Einkorn, emmer or spelt still enables the baker to produce a well aerated loaf. It only requires a different handling and a soft touch. All this for a far better tasting loaf.
making bread in centenary hoven - Jorge Sarmento Photography
I Stumbled across this wonderful photography documentary from Jorge Sarmento, Portugal. Bread lovers, check it out!
This photographic documentary was made in a community oven with more than 200 years old. Although in poor condition, the oven is used from time to time for special occasions.
Jorge Sarmento grew up in this environment, involved by it and now he see it all disappear. So he intend to create a turning point, freeze those moments in time to be able to show and explain them in other time.
On the process of making bread is a deep knowledge and a tradition passed down from generation to generation. In Mourão no one makes bread they buy it at local marked. This knowledge and tradition are lost in time: they are past, hopefully never forgotten.
All documentary was done with natural light used in the past to bake bread, it was baked at candle light and traditional oil lamps.