I’m a serious pizza eater. There were stretches of time back when I lived near my Dad’s restaurant where I’d eat fresh pizza almost every other day; I’d stop in for a slice (owr a whole pie) on my way home from work to sort out dinner. This was not because I was lazy and didn’t cook, but because I loved pizza and I simply wanted some. I’ve had tons of different topping combinations but always fall back on classics: sometimes I think the simplest of things really are the best. But one of the most amazing things about pizza is that it can take on so many different toppings and taste fantastic. I know hardcore pizzaiolo will take issue with that statement but it’s pretty awesome to experiment with new flavors and see what we can come up with. Even in Italy I’ve seen some crazy pizza toppings (French fries? Yes, I’ve seen it) and as long as everything is in balance it usually works out. But fmeor me, a good margherita pizza bares all and tells the story of how good a pizzeria is.
Pizza is a food I can eat at every single meal given the chance and when visiting a new restaurant I always struggle internally when I spot it on the menu. You see, I always want to order the pizza. It’s like the entire menu fades away right in front of me and pizza is all that remains. Even if it’s at some strange fusion restaurant that has nothing to do with Italian food, I want it. My meal companions can pretty much bet I’m going to order pizza and with about 99% accuracy I’ll inevitably complain about it right after the first slice. What can I say, I’m picky.
As you may have caught on my Instagram feed last week I was totally shocked and honored to find out The Perfect Loaf won both Editors’ Choice and Readers’ Choice for The Food Obsessive award in the 2016 Saveur Blog Awards! In addition, I met some incredibly talented and passionate people at the event in New York City — so passionate I could have probably talked with them for weeks upon weeks about food, cooking and baking. A huge thanks goes out to everyone who nominated, voted and supported this site (and me) — I really can’t convey enough thanks. And congratulations to all the other nominees and winners!
Now back to sourdough! I recently had an opportunity to attend a lavender event at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, a local farm here in the heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico. They offered a small glimpse of their lavender fields, organic farming practices and an introduction to their growing lavender distillation process. The lavender grown on the farm is not culinary lavender, it’s actually only used for cosmetics (essential oils, lotion, etc.), but it was incredibly interesting to see how they follow sustainable growing practices throughout the farm and produce so much local lavender each year. Continue reading →
This is the second spelt recipe I’ve posted here, mostly because I am transfixed with the flavor of spelt, but also because I developed this formula for a short article I wrote that will appear in the Bread Baker’s Guild of America Bread Lines magazine early next year. The article has some background information on me, my process, and my motivation for baking sourdough — most of which if you’ve read my entries for a while you already know. I went into how I started baking, how both the scientific and artisanal processes captivate me each and every bake and how baking not only reminds me of my childhood growing up in an Italian restaurant but also because good, healthy food really just requires time.
So why another spelt recipe? When thinking about the article I went back and forth on what recipe to include, swaying between a few sourdough recipes I’ve been experimenting with and some of my old tried-and-true favorites. I knew I wanted to use one that had fresh milled flour and without a doubt my previous spelt sourdough recipe is among my most favorite; but I wanted to take it a bit further. I began to think about what things I’d change if I was looking to try and improve it and I decided to start with that formula as a base and rove from there, to explore and find something that really struck my palette as different or something that produced a substantial structural difference — or perhaps both.
Lately I’ve been creatively working my sourdough starter into baked goods around my kitchen. It started with my desire to reduce the “waste”1 of feeding my starter one to two times per day and eventually I began to fully realize the significant amount of flavor in that fermented flour mixture. You can find my recipes for sourdough pancakes, banana bread and waffles but this is my first mention of a dessert with sourdough in the crust and it’s fantastic. This whole grain crust is everything you want in a pie or galette crust: buttery, tender, flaky and packed with flavor.
I can hardly believe it but my website has been nominated as a finalist in the 7th annual Saveur Blog Awards! I’m a finalist in the “The Food Obsessive” category (yea, I think it fits!) — sites dedicated to a single, focused topic. Thank you so much to everyone who nominated this website, it truly means a lot to me and to be among some of the top blogs out there is an honor.
Your sourdough starter — a mixture of yeast and bacteria (the good kind) that co-exist to naturally leaven bread, add complex flavors, aid in digestion and unlock health benefits — it’s no wonder it quickly becomes part of your family1. I’ve been maintaining mine for many years now, but really it’s nothing mystical or magical, it’s a culture I give nourishment (flour + water) and in return it happily does work for me without even realizing it.
I’ve been compiling this list of frequently asked sourdough starter questions for almost as long as this website has been around. Each time I receive an email or comment asking a question about what I do in a particular situation, I’ve saved it away and have added the most commonly asked questions below. This page is an on-going compilation of the most asked questions and as such it will be updated frequently with new entries as they come in.