Saturday, December 29, 2007


Last Friday, I had a rare "day off". While I don't work full-time, I usually spend some time teaching most days and a lot of time doing housework, cooking, and shopping. On many days, I feel as busy as I used to when I was working full-time, sometimes more so. If you do housework well, it's the death of a thousand cuts. There are so many little things to do that the tasks can pile up and take hours, even if you're on top of things on a daily basis.

Last Friday, due to a lot of reschedules, I didn't have any lessons and the house was relatively clean so a potential lazy day stretched before me. The rescheduling had resulted in a Saturday that was packed with private lessons so this was my lull before the storm.

A normal person would probably rest and enjoy that free time, but I'm extremely inept at relaxation. I'm not sure what the problem is but, unless I'm sick, I can't lie around the house and do nothing. I can't even lie around and watch T.V. or play a game for hours. So, rather than relax, I decided to make some homemade bread by hand (as opposed to the bread machine which is my normal method).

My Qurban was a bit on the flat side and my rolling skills are clearly not refined. Rather than nice, round bread, I made some amoeba-shaped ones. The two in front actually appear to be dividing from one another.

Awhile back, I saw a recipe for Qurban on the Desert Candy web site which looked interesting. The main problem was that it required orange flower water (and mahlep) and I don't have access to any. I figured that I'd try it substituting orange essence knowing full well it wasn't going to be anywhere near the same. Mainly, I was hoping for the same texture if nothing else and to enjoy the experience of making bread with my hands.

If you've never made bread before, it can be very therapeutic if you have the free time. It smells great when the yeast is doing its thing. It's somehow very relaxing to knead it (and punching dough is good for getting out some aggression and negative energy). There's also something to be said for reconnecting with how food is created closer to its origins rather than simply consuming it as something sold in bags at stores.

The finished bread was soft and relatively nice but not really like the buns shown on Desert Candy. It didn't have the wonderful orange smell that Mercedes mentioned in her blog. Mine were also flatter than hers and very pale on the bottom. In fact, while hers were nicely brown, mine were white. They tasted fine out of the oven in their normal state, but they really shined when I toasted them. When toasted, the outside takes on a delicate and satisfying crispiness, almost like a paper thing shell, on both sides. I had them with honey for breakfast and sliced one in half, put some ham and cheese in it, and toasted it for a really splendid lunch.

If you have a little lull in your life and have the time, you might want to give these a try. However, I'd recommend not rolling them out to six inches in diameter as they seem a bit too flat that way. I'd go for 4 inches. Of course, it just could be that my yeast wasn't the most robust. I believe that the yeast you buy in Japan in little foil packets isn't as active as some of the varieties you can get back home. Since there appears to be only one brand of yeast carried at most markets, it's not like there's any competition for an improved product and, since bread making isn't a part of Japanese food culture, it's not as if there's a great demand for higher quality yeast.


mjgolli said...

This bread sounds great, I will have to try it. I love to cook and bake, but rarely have the chance.

It seems that you are, too, a great deal more active than I am. I have a tendency that during lulls in work or life in general, I tend to be really lazy and take copious amounts of naps.

Of course, I feel somewhat guilty...there are things that I could be doing, such as baking and all that, but I just can't really do it. Woe are the lazy and depressed!

But I have to day, the recipe for the qurban may just get me back into the kitchen!

Shari said...

I think you have a good excuse to be lazy and depressed considering you are still recovering!

I wish I was taking copious amounts of naps. Sometimes, I wear myself into a frazzle. My husband sometimes leaves the house on days when my schedule is clear and emphatically says, "relax!" But I rarely listen. ;-)