Saturday, November 04, 2006

Baking Love

It's Saturday morning, and I no longer have the farmers' market to catch first thing in the morning. So what, you may ask, will I do with myself now that that routine is over for the year?

Maybe I'm not stocking the pantry any more, but I'm still getting up at my usual (early!) hour so that I can spend Saturday mornings using what's in the pantry in my weekly baking.

Since the weather took a turn toward the chill and gloom of late fall some time back, I've been itching to start a day by making a pot of vegetable stock and a few loaves of bread. So that's how today began, with this week's bread selection being a robust pumpernickel laced with dill.

It's been a long time since I made pumpernickel bread, but since I wanted it for appetizers for next week's open house at my place, I thought I'd go ahead and make it now so that I can enjoy a little for myself before the crowd devours the rest.

And I'm so glad I did. The smell of yeast fermenting in the enticing dark richness of molasses filled the loft, and it took a great deal of will power on my part not to consume an entire loaf right out of the oven.

Once I started baking the bread, I decided to whip up a batch of cookies to take advantage of the oven's heat (and because I really, really like fresh cookies), and after a quick browse through my cookbook, I settled on the recipe for chocolate chip and hazelnut cookies laced with orange peel.

I don't often bake with hazelnuts since they're more expensive than my usual walnuts or pecans, but now and then they make a wonderful change of pace. And my goodness, they do dress up the average chocolate chip cookie!

By lunchtime, I had three loaves of pumpernickel bread cooling on the counter and over two dozen cookies nestling in a tin... and a very fragrant apartment.

Is it any wonder I love baking?


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