Sue’s brother Marty was here for a week of superior cooking. Marty is an exceptional chef and my job when he’s around is to eat whatever he puts in front of me, to happily clean up after him, and to make breads to accompany his mains.
To celebrate his arrival and the ninety-ninth anniversary of the birth of their Dad, I baked a Danish sourdough rye. It’s a dense, sour loaf full of boiled grains of rye, wheat, and farro (an ancient variety of wheat) berries, plus some sunflower seeds and flax seeds. I made this with my Cripple Creek whole wheat starter.
Next, for the second year running, Marty and I made croissant. Croissant preparation is hard work. It takes three days, most of that devoted to turning flour and butter into puff pastry and to do that cold butter is beaten and then rolled into dough. Then the dough is cooled, rolled flat, folded and cooled again. Repeat three times before rolling the croissant, which are required to rest in the fridge overnight. Honestly, this year’s were not as good as the batch we prepared last year. This year’s were missing crispiness on the outside and the inside were too breadlike. We fear we might have let the croissant get too warm in the very last step allowing the butter to melt into the flour. Next year we’ll try again.
The croissant were made from my Meadville starter and I couldn’t bear to throw it away so I turned the leftover into a rye starter. Actually, I turned it into a fried onion, rye starter and cooked it all into a New York style deli rye. This might have been my favorite of the week. It really did taste like New York deli onion rye.
No winter visit by Marty would be complete without his specialty lox flown in and delivered by an unaware and overworked UPS man. For years we ate the lox on blini purchased over the internet. Two years ago Marty and I concluded that authentic Russian blini, buckwheat pancakes, really, were probably made with a sourdough starter rather than with yeast. This year we made our blini with 100% buckwheat flour and again used my starter from Saudi Arabia. The blini were very sour and intensely grainy. Next year we’ll go back to a fifty – fifty mixture of white flour and buckwheat so we don’t overpower the balance of creme fraiche (homemade, of course), red onion, capers, and lox. Not that we are complaining.