New Horizons in Baking

Earlier this week, Husband started to muse about the next thing he wanted to learn to bake.  He makes  all sorts of rye breads  and sourdough breads, and he just made Julekage for for first time. He decided that he was ready to try his hand at Nordic flatbreads, crispbreads, and crackers.

That, of course, means purchasing a new Swedish rolling pin with little knobs all over it,  and ammonium carbonate or Hartshorn, aka Baker’s Ammonia, a rather smelly leavening agent. (I guess the odor dissipates as the crackers bake.) The Nordic Baking book we consulted was very clear that out grooved lefse rolling pin just wouldn’t do, and that Hartshorn or Bakers Ammonia was essential to crispy crackers.

What have you mastered?  What are you trying to perfect? Do you make your own crackers or flatbread?

58 thoughts on “New Horizons in Baking”

  1. I do make my own crackers. Found a recipe in a magazine years and years ago. It only calls for a simple rolling pin but to poke holes all over with a fork before baking. The crackers come out all kinds of shapes and sizes. People love ’em. They are not Nordic which is why one doesn’t need a special rolling pin.
    So what’s the difference between buying special baking equipment and that special tool one needs to do this one project. To me it all the same. Important. As the old adage goes “One who dies with the most tools (or most baking equipment) wins!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. There is a metal implement called a laufabraudsjarn from Iceland, that cuts lovely leaf shapes in flatbread. It is rather expensive but tempting.

      Thanks for posting. You are Ben’s friend from Hills, are you not?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to bake a lot; when our kids were young, we ate home-baked breads almost exclusively. As to flatbreads, I’ve made pita and focaccia and at least once experimented with crackers. These days, the two of us just don’t eat enough bread to make baking worthwhile. Usually a loaf will go stale or moldy before we can finish it.

    I’ve talked before about my efforts in book repair, something I’ve been working at for years. There are two directions one can go when dealing with a damaged book: repair or restoration. Repair is what libraries do, with the emphasis on utility and durability. Restoration seeks to return a book to its original state with as little evidence of intervention as possible. I find myself in a sort of middle ground.

    The books I like to work on are in many cases quite scarce because of their antiquity and because they were popular in their era and therefore got heavily used. For many of these books, only one or two copies are listed by online booksellers worldwide and the prospective price these sellers have affixed to them can be in the hundreds of dollars. I say prospective price because real value is established only when you have both a seller and a buyer. Rarity alone doesn’t make something valuable. The prices I pay for the volumes I find, sometimes after patiently hunting for years, are in the tens rather than the hundreds of dollars. For those low prices, I am willing to accept that the books may be damaged in some way.

    Antique dealers often emphasize that cleaning an antique removes its patina and may lower its value. In the same way, some antiquarians maintain that rare books should be left in their original state, whatever that may be and if they are in pieces they should be contained in a custom-made box. In other words, they regard the book as an artifact, an object like a fan or a hat. Personally I regard books as purveyors of information that need to function as a book to have any meaning or reason to survive.

    So I will disassemble these rare and theoretically valuable objects in order to reassemble them as close to their original state as I can manage given their sometimes fragmentary condition. I preserve the portions that remain and replace the missing parts with complementary substitutes. The challenge is that every book presents its own set of problems to be solved. I add to my skills through experience and by taking classes. The end result of my efforts is a functional book, some closer to their original state than others but all that can be handled and read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bill, books are such vehicles of culture, story, and information. I love your reverence for books and your desire to conserve them. Thanks for doing this, although I realize it is a labor of love.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. My cousin has a specialty degree in document preservation, and worked for years at Ohio State University in the libraries there. I imagine he was more concerned with repair than restoration.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Every time you talk about this, Bill, I can tell how much effort and care you put into this endeavor, and my next thought is always, I should have Bill take a look at dad’s “søfartsbog.” This little book is one of a kind, it’s the mostly handwritten documentation of his seafaring days. It is the only tangible memento I have of him, other than the face that stares back at me in the mirror each morning.

      The book is falling apart from wear, it was, after all, a working document for many years, it may well be beyond repair. I know this book meant the world to dad. When I visited him shortly before he died, he handed it to and said he wanted me to have it. “Your sister would just throw it away,” he added. I’m pretty sure he was wrong about that last part. I think Randi would treasure it as I do, and she has two kids, and two grandchildren.

      Would you be willing to take a look at it Bill, and let me know if anything can be done to at least preserve it before it completely disintegrates? If you’d take on the task, I would, of course, pay you for your work. But as I said, it may well be beyond repair, it’s in pretty rough shape.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’d be willing to take a look at it. I should be able to tell you what needs to be done and what I would be able to do with my limited equipment. Is it constructed like an ordinary book?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think so, or at least it used to be. The spine is pretty much gone, what’s holding it together is a hope and a prayer, I think. I’ll try to remember to bring it along to the next baboon gathering that we’re both at. Or we can meet up for a cup of coffee or something, once I get my eyes fixed.

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        2. That is sweet of you to say, Steve, but I really don’t want Bill to feel pressured in any way to take on this task. I’d like his opinion about it, and if the brutal truth is that it’s too far gone to bother with, so be it. We’ll see how this works out.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. No, not this weekend, Bill. But that’s a thought, I can let you know if I have an errand in that neck of the woods, and I can swing by to show you the book.

          Liked by 1 person

        1. It really is, Jacque. I have spent hours trying to pry some of the details of dad’s life from its faded pages. It helps to have a rough idea of what lies between the entries. It’s a treasure, as tattered, worn and abused as dad was at the end of his life.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Rise and enjoy the crunch, Baboons,

    I have a flatbread recipe that I can post later today. I myself have only made it several times, but it has been on my mind lately. It was my Grandma’s recipe which she must have made hundreds of times. We ate this delicate flatbread with butter. It is delicate and crisp with a delicious mild sweetness. This flatbread also requires the knobly rolling pin, which I do not have access to anymore. I must get me one of those and get busy.

    I have mastered making pies, gardening flowers and vegetables, and canning tomatoes, tomato soup and jams and jellies (but only the ones I like). And this reminds me, I need to enroll in the Master Gardner classes at the Arboretum. That is my next “keep my mind busy” project.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m in the winter baking “Amish Friendship Bread” mode… other than frozen pizza, thats about as far as it goes. 🙂
    And toast.

    I’m trying to get better at parking. Just plain old “get between the yellow lines” kind of parking. I seem to have lost that ability lately.
    Or rather, I’m “Maximizing my use of the space between the lines”.
    Meaning I can’t park straight.
    As they say, you get more corn in a crooked row than a straight one.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I feel your pain, Ben. Ever since we bought the new Toyota Highlander, aka Duke, more than four years ago, I’ve had the devil of a time getting that guy centered in parking spaces. Never had trouble with any previous 5 or 6 cars I regularly drove. Must be that it rides a lot higher than my previous cars and my spatial perspective is off.

      Chris

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I really think that parallel parking is a horrible evil that is a plague upon us. I will do almost anything to avoid parallel parking. Which is funny because you’d think with such a small car it would be easier for me but it’s actually harder than when I had to parallel park my dad’s Lincoln for my drivers test

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’ve got it! Remember that Doo-wop song by Gene Chandler? Chris’s SUV must be unstoppable!

          Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl
          Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl

          As I walk through this world
          Nothing can stop the Duke of Earl

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Heh, heh, heh. I’m surprised no one sussed out that this one-time music teacher and wannabe jazz trumpet great named his SUV Duke after the one and only Duke Ellington. 😉

          Chris

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      1. -Always drink upstream from the herd?
        -Don’t start a fight you don’t intend to finish.
        -Never miss a good chance to shut up.
        -Choose your battles.

        But it’s this one that I think about often:
        “Don’t worry about the future. […] The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.”

        Liked by 7 people

  5. Can’t say that I’ve mastered anything other than the art of husbanding (not husbandry). Husbanding is only achieved by men who have stayed married to the same woman for long enough that they will never split up. Usually reserved for 40+ year marriages, or for couples who married later but are now in their 60s or older and have no interest in looking for another mate if they did leave the current one. 🙂

    Yep, I can say “Yes, Dear,” in 27 different languages and 43 different voice inflections. 😉

    I’ve been trying to perfect my golf game for longer than I’ve been married but I think “Perfect Golf Game” is either an oxymoron or a mutually exclusive pursuit.

    I LOVE making a good loaf of bread now and then but since my wife declared herself gluten-free, there’s little point in making a whole loaf of bread if we can’t share it–makes me feel a bit selfish if I enjoy something she can’t in her presence.

    If I ever develop a gluten intolerance, I think I’d have to eat bread or pastries once in a while and suffer the consequences (unless it might kill me of course; some people like my wife, just get non-lethal gastric distress.)

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I was happy in December because I feel like I have mastered the Tart au Soleile, a fancy looking dish made with puff pastry. I’ve made four or five of them now and I’m feeling very confident. I’m still working on cannoli. I’ve progressed from the first not-very-good batch but unfortunately last fall I cheated by using wonton wrappers. They tasted way better than I had expected so now I’m having trouble getting motivated to make the dough by hand and then roll it and roll it and roll it to get it thin enough.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I’ve muddled through most of my life being tolerably competent at a lot of things. Not sure that I would claim to have mastered any of them, let alone perfected anything. And no, I’ve never made my own crackers or flatbread. Danish pancakes (essentially crepes) is as close as I get to flatbread. As for crackers, I like the Swedish knækkebrød you can buy at Ikea, so I’m good.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Don’t qualify in either category. They are neither flat nor crunchy. Besides I have made them only a couple of times in my life. Definitely not an expert. But they are serving them this Sunday at the Danish American Center, and those guys know what they’re doing. They make some excellent æbleskiver.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I think whoever it was who invented no boil lasagna noodles is a master of his/ her craft and deserves an award. Making lasagna today out of leftover cheeses, frozen spinach from the garden, and getting-too-old home canned pasta sauces.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I love finding home-made crackers or flatbread at a potluck, and I should try it out, I guess. About the only thing I’ve mastered in the kitchen is almost any variation on an Egg Bake – though I don’t claim constant success with a soufflé.

    I have mastered several techniques for altering ill-fitting clothing (often found in thrift shops), including inserting my own pockets, adding a piece on the side to enlarge a vest, and of course hemming.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Love the Husband references in your posts.. I wish I could get mine baking! I’m struggling a bit with pizza base at the moment as we try to do wholegrain but it just doesn’t behave the same, I find?

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