Another Post About Bread

I wrote a post about baking bread a while back. Well, I’ve found another recipe that I think is even better than the one I’d been using. It comes from FiveHeartHome although I’ve seen similar recipes elsewhere on the Internet. What I like about FiveHeartHome’s recipe, which you can find here, is that blogger Samantha explains how the recipe works and provides plenty of helpful pictures of the dough mixing process-always helpful when you’re learning a new bread making technique.

So, what’s so special about this recipe? You mix your sponge, let it rest 10 minutes, add the rest of your ingredients, mix, knead, and it’s ready for the pans. Just like that.

Dough after kneading

You let your dough rise to the size you want your final loaves to be. And then you bake it. No fussing about “oven spring.” What you see is what you get.

Dough after rising before baking

I’ve doubled the FiveHeartHome recipe to make four loaves and it works great. I don’t have a stand mixer. I use a sturdy Hamilton Beach hand mixer like this one to incorporate all the ingredients before I start kneading. The kneading doesn’t take long; the dough comes together beautifully. I don’t use a thermometer to determine if my bread is done. The old “thump the loaf” test works fine for me. And I run the hot water from the tap.

The unusual ingredient in this bread is the lemon juice. (I substitute cider vinegar). It helps the yeast work and makes the bread rise nicely. Don’t be tempted to dump all the ingredients into the bowl at once even if you have a professional stand mixer. Follow the instructions in the order given. You won’t be sorry.

Out of the oven
Out of the pans
A nice crumb

I do improvise a little with this bread, throwing in some sunflower seeds and rolled oats when I mix the sponge into the rest of the ingredients. What I really think would be interesting would be a Challah type bread using this recipe as the base. Maybe I’ll try that next.

Clayathon Goes Virtual

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Normally, the articles I’ve posted after the annual Clayathon conference are heavy on photographs.   But this year, we took Clayathon online because the pandemic made gathering at the Stockton Seaview an impossibility.  None of us had ever hosted an online conference before.  There was a lot to learn!  In the end, we went for three days and had more than 300 people in attendance via Zoom from all over the globe.  That’s 300 people at one time watching our guest artist Carol Blackburn in two live streams from London each day and our end of the day presenter Syndee Holt, live each day from San Diego, California.  That’s an 8 hour difference for those of you who are wondering. Carol shared a screen in Zoom with her work surface.  Everyone got a clear view. People could ask questions in the chat box.  After Carol’s demos, there were pdf handouts for paid registrants

Pit Crew including
Meeting of the pit crew

In the middle, we had presenters from the Eastern Standard time zone:  A panel discussion with Lindly Haunani, Laura Tabakman and Kathleen Dustin on the impact the pandemic has had on their art,  a live tour of Kathleen Dustin’s studio in the woods of New Hampshire and a presentation by Loretta Lam on her book (which I highly recommend) Mastering Contemporary Jewelry Design.  In the afternoon, we had breakout rooms in Zoom where people could mingle, socialize and trade ideas. 

My work station

None of this happened by accident.  We’ve been planning virtual Clayathon 2021 for months.  We had great people on the crew.  For more information, go to our web site where you can read all about Clayathon.  Be sure to visit the shop where you can buy art from many of the teachers who taught workshops in the days before and after Clayathon.

Clayathon in full swing with screens and screens of participants
Valentine’s Day morning.

Pottery in Progress

Clayathon starts this Friday, so I haven’t had much time to go to the studio lately. Today, I decided to decorate a set of nesting bowls with underglaze.

I think I’ll be better able to concentrate when Clayathon is over, although it should be lots of fun. If you’re curious about the polymer side of clay, check us out at Clayathon.org.

A Winter’s Day

Winter dumped a load on the East coast this week. I’m glad I didn’t have to be anywhere. Still, it’s fun to go out and explore.

One of my favourite murals is a snow scene!

A little South Philly humor. I have yet to meet a poop fairy.
Local basketball court under snow
Bob’s garden is closed for the winter and turtle is fast asleep in the heated Koi pond dreaming about sunny days ahead.

Clayathon on My Brain

We are planning our first virtual Clayathon and planning and helping with it has pretty much taken over my life this past week, I’m learning a lot. We even have a new web page thanks to Lisa Clarke. Even though it won’t be the same as the in-person conference, I am still looking forward to Clayathon 2021.

And now for a trip down memory lane.

Glad to be Back

I’m back in the pottery studio this week decorating and glazing all the bowls I threw last year. The studio has limited access, we observe social distancing, and we all wear masks which is generally a good idea in a pottery studio. I’m glad to have a little brightness and color to add to these dark winter days. Spring is just ahead! Here are some pictures.

Bread Helps

My mother made bread every week when I was growing up, so bread making it was never a big mystery to me. It’s a great pastime on a cold winter day and makes everything smell so good.

It’s also great to have toast made from home made bread to go with your yogurt after you’ve had two teeth pulled which I did today. Don’t go apoplectic on me. There was no pain and the teeth needed to come out. I feel much better with them gone.

To try the recipe I used, which makes four loaves, click here.

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Beading from Wolf Hall

I’ve been doing a lot of reading during the Pandemic.  I’m currently working my way through Wolf Hall  by Hilary Mantel, a book I heartily recommend. It takes place during the reign of Henry VIII and focuses on the life and career of Thomas Cromwell, one of his closest advisors.   I’ve written before how I find distasteful (!) many of the aspects of the Elizabethan world. (Although I am also working on family genealogy and learning a little about what life was like for some of my ancestors who lived through it.)  Let’s just say that religious fanaticism is nothing new and leave it at that.

I’ve gotten to the part in the book where Anne Boleyn becomes queen.  The book concentrates more on the history and personalities and does not contain detailed descriptions  of clothing and jewelry.  Still, there are some and it got me to thinking and I pulled out some of my unfinished bead design projects.  I was trying to design a necklace as a surprise afor a person (who I considered a part of my funky extended family) who loved Renaissance Fairs and was also into beading.  But she died unexpectedly and I put the project on mothballs.

Maybe I’ll take it up again.  Many of the pieces use cubic right angle weave, a stitch that was very hot at the time.  I also love cross-weave beading (right angle weave is but one form of this)  and was experimenting with that stitch as well.  Here are some pictures. Rest easy Wendy and thanks for inspiring me.

Happy New Year!

Hey, it’s been a tough year for stuffed animals too. Just ask the Le Mutts! Here’s hoping for better things in the coming year. And spread light wherever you can. That’s what keeps us going.

Happy Holidays from Boris

No matter how or what you celebrate.