Still Life

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Homemade still life

I am currently enjoying a short, very short break from work in what I call my other life and am taking advantage of this brief respite bonding with my sourdough starter and my oven. Not exactly the time of year to be working with sourdough cultures, the cold season and all, but I´ve had this mother starter since the summer of ´11 and I just have to refresh it to make it come alive again before I use it.The whole process can take a few days, from start to finish, but it is precisely this long process of nurturing and handling and waiting that appeals to me since it is the antithesis of what we have all gotten used to in our instant, 10 mb per nano-second, at-the-swipe-of-a-finger culture. I like the idea of making something in the exact same way it used to be made 200 years ago, and the product, if it turns out the way you want it to, is, for me, just as much to behold as it is to consume. When it comes out good. Half the time I´m not happy with the result. So many parallels with painting, this bread making thing.

Here are some sourdough boules from these past days. After many months of trial and error, I´ve settled on and have been using for quite some time now a dough recipe actually developed for pizza by Jeff Varasano, a pizza guru whose recipe is all over the Internet and can be found here. I pretty much follow it to the letter but have varied it only slightly by using more sourdough starter and adjusted the other weights accordingly.

...And this is how the crumb turned out.

...and a couple more. I use a dutch oven inside my gas oven to bake the bread in as I like the way the heat seems to work better in this system. Any serious bread maker knows this trick, especially when one doesn´t have access to strong wood-fired ovens. The resulting color of the crust is much more even, for one thing, and the crust itself is much better. 

....and then, I decided it was time to paint a still life of bread using bread that I had made -- something I´ve been wanting to do for a long time now and have finally found the time to do it. A sort of homage to my sourdough boule before consuming it. To my Spanish friends: "yo me lo guiso, yo me lo como", right? Anyway, here it is:

...this is what the set up looked like in the studio. The December sunlight I have to work with in my studio with its northeast-facing window is quite fugitive and I had to work quickly. Also, I didn´t want the bread going to waste.

1 comment:

  1. As one of the lucky ones that gets to eat the bread, I can vouch that not just does it look great but it tastes even better. As for the exquisite little painting, I took advantage of the Christmas giving spirit and asked for it...of course, I got it ;-)