Fun times in Portland and a bread time story

We had a wonderful Christmas in Portland, Maine with our son Fritz and his girlfriend Meg (who live there), our other son Robin (who dropped his fiancee Stephanie off at her parents’ house in Connecticut as they drove up from Baltimore), Bruce’s mother Ann, his sister Kelly and her partner Allison.

“Hey, I have an idea. Let’s pose for a timed photo of ourselves”

L to R: Kelly, me, Meg, Bruce, Ann, Robin, Al, Fritz.

“Hey, I have another idea. Let’s take a second photo and all make faces!”

I couldn’t figure out why everyone was laughing at me after the shot was taken. Then I realized I was setting myself up as a chump if I was the only one  making a face. (This has actually happens to me a lot. You’d think I would learn!)

After opening presents and having a most excellent brunch made by Fritz and Meg,  we took a walk around the eastern prom. It was a little snowy and icy underfoot, but it felt good to get out.

Christmas sunset over Portland. The calm before the storm. (At this same time the next evening, the snow had started and the winds were picking up, and Bruce and I were glad to be back on the island before the blizzard hit.)

After the walk and some rest time, we regrouped for dinner at Kelly and Al’s house.  More presents, more food, more fun. And a chance to learn some bread techniques from Al.

I was inspired to try this at home. I keep my sourdough starter in the fridge, so I took it out to warm and feed it before making bread. Well, I forgot about it, and a day later decided to feed it as the power was blinking during the blizzard. I took the starter I usually would discard and mixed a bread dough with it, using the technique described in the Tartine Bread book; the same technique Al was using to get professional bakery results at home. (At work she has fancy ovens for this.) An hour later a tree came down on the island and lights went off. I stuck the dough in the fridge to wait until the next day. The next morning, with the power still out, I took the dough out of the fridge and folded and turned it at 30 minute intervals. Eventually I shaped the loaf and let it rise for the final time. Using un-fed starter and an interrupted bulk rise was not described in the book. I knew the loaf would probably be sour from what I had read about fermentation times, etc. but, I like sourdough bread. A lot!  And I have never quite been able to get the flavor and texture I wanted. I had nothing to lose with this trial loaf, but my fingers were crossed that I would create something close to what I wanted.  The power came back on in time to put the bread in a cast iron Dutch oven in a 500º oven and I baked according to the schedule in the book. Check it out!

Not only did I get a tangy loaf with a crackly crust and creamy interior, I got something else I had been looking for in making this kind of  bread…



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4 responses to “Fun times in Portland and a bread time story

  1. Wow! My mouth was already watering at the sight of your English muffins! (Memories of lobster sandwiches!) But that bread looks amazing…you should go into the business…mmm…Barb’s Island Bakery…has a certain ring doesn’t it? It was great hearing about Portland and seeing pictures of the family.
    Looks like a great crew! Glad you missed getting caught in the storm!


    • Barb Fernald

      Hi Marly,
      I did bake English muffins and other stuff one summer before I got into making jewelry. But I was lobster fishing with Bruce during the rest of the year. No Island bakery for me! But I am happy to get some good results on sour dough bread. I’ll bake some for you and Angie the next time we get together. Fond memories of lunch with you guys on the first day of class and having people ask, “What are you guys eating for lunch?”
      Happy New year mes amies!


  2. That bread looks soooooooo good – Marly’s mention of Lobster Sandwiches has me wanting to get in the car and drive wayyy north!

    I LOVE the photo of you! That happens to me in every single personal photo I have!


    • Barb Fernald

      Hi Maggie,
      I can’t stop making bread, now that I learned how to make sour dough that actually rises. We had such a nice family Christmas, I’m glad we actually managed to capture a photo of all of us. Funny faces or not.
      I was at a workshop in Vermont with marly and 3 other friends. We were staying in another friend’s house and we were each responsible for one dinner. Well, it was a no brainer for me to bring lobsters, especially in the fall when they are plentiful. We had the leftovers for lunch the next day on the first day of class.
      Lobsters move offshore by this time of year. There are fewer fishermen going out to haul traps, and they have to go farther out to catch them. Consequently, the price is high at this time of year. We actually don’t eat them much from December to March. The rest of the year, they are sandwich meat whenever we want!


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