The Lahey Project: Irish Brown Bread (and the Giveaway Winner!)

This morning, I assigned numbers to all of the commenters who desired to win the Blazing Hot Candied Jalapenos, and according to the Random Number Generator, the lucky winner was Neil F.! I met Neil at a dinner a few weeks ago at La Merenda in support of the Eat Local Milwaukee restaurant challenge. He is also an intern at Wellspring Farms, and blogs about his experiences at stream of consciousness, so hop over and check it out!

This giveaway had 18 entrants, which is vastly more than my first giveaway, and I'm very excited to see if these peppers are hot enough for Neil! I'm going to to prematurely say: yes they are!, after sampling the first of my newly canned batch last night.

I must confess that I'm really not a party girl. I enjoy get-togethers, but not feeling awkward and stranger-in-a-strange-landish. I don't attend many parties, preferring to have just one or two people over for dinner now and then. That works pretty well for me, and for my house which is on the smallish side.

I also have never thrown myself a party, which I kind of did last night, when I invited 8 friends to my house for a "Small Ferments Get-Together". We enjoyed an evening of sampling different kitchen experiments: Mr. Mork's Toungesplitter Ale (renamed The Bernadette Peters), Kir and "fermented" chocolate covered cherries (and kombucha) from Peef and Lo at Burp!, and of course an array of lacto-fermented veg and bread. (A particular highlight is that my Husband actually tried Kombucha for the first time! I was shocked! And, he didn't even hate it!)

I used the excuse of company to knock out another of my Lahey Project breads: the Irish Brown Bread. The recipe is actually exactly the same as the Pane Integral bread, but instead of including water, the liquids are Guinness and buttermilk (in my case, homemade whole milk buttermilk). The result was a tangy bread with a tighter crumb than the other breads in his book, and a peculiar rye flavor even though there was not even a trace of rye flour in it.

I must admit, it wasn't my favorite of the Lahey breads I've tried so far, but Peef was on to something when he suggested a grilled sandwich made with some kind of ruben-ish ingredients! I have only 1 piece of that bread left, so I may need an excuse to make it again to try that. I also think it is largely a matter of personal preference, since a few of my guests really loved it.

I feel like I stand on the cusp of bread season. All summer, I make bread here and there, but seldom get hungry for it until the coolness of September and October hit. Nearly two weeks ago, I embarked on a new bread project, a sourdough grown from wild yeast as suggested by Nancy Silverton. If all goes as planned, I should be able to knock out the first of the loaves of Wisconsin Sourdough on Monday - and a more detailed post will certainly follow.

No matter what, Lahey bread is still near and dear to me - a perfectly wonderful addition to any dinner or party, and a fairly labor-free endeavor as well. My rule of thumb is to mix up the dough(s) 24 hours before I plan to bake. I haven't had any trouble with that method yet, but still feel like I have volumes to learn about fermentation as it pertains to bread.

Stay tuned, since Nancy Silverton is probably the best guide on the subject for an obsessive type such as myself!