Staff of Life

It's been many years since we bought a loaf of supermarket bread. In Vancouver, with a wealth of interesting healthy bakeries, it was easy to avoid the flabby mass-produced loaf. We lived in bread heaven, stopping often at Terra Bread, Transylvania Bakery and, while it was around, Ecco Il Pane. A zesty, crusty cheese or earthy walnut loaf from Terra with my morning coffee, and a dense, tangy sourdough whole-wheat from Transylvania for everything else, please. Yes, it was expensive. Non, je ne regrette rien.

No such luck in Suburbia. I had experimented with bread baking before, but never seriously. When the New York Times published an article by Mark Bittman about the famous No Knead Loaf, I had a short but meaningful fling, which I mentioned here. An excellent novelty loaf but no good for everyday. I was looking to make a long-term commitment, and Michael Smith's Real Bread, also in the 18-hour No Knead tradition, fit the bill nicely for a while. But still I craved a 100% whole-wheat loaf, so Mr. D*S has taken over the task of making Real Bread for our sandwiches:

The more substantial whole-wheat bread that I was after would require good, old-fashioned kneading. Finally, I found the answer in the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. This involves a rye sour and tastes very much like the whole-wheat bread at Transylvania Bakery (only—I have to say it—more tender). It's a cranky baby, but my pride and joy. The first bread in a long while that I don't feel the need to toast, even after a few days. Just a lick of butter and I'm happy.

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