I have not been buying bread for quite a bit of time already making my own challot of different kinds, stuffed with apples, sprinkled with za’atar, experimenting with different flours. Bread making that I used to shun, albeit time consuming has a nice therapeutic touch to it. You have to immerse into this sacred activity with your whole heart and soul. My main problem was always rushing making twenty things at a time in anticipation for Shabbat guests coming. So today, I went to a super slow bread making class – making of the Borodinsky bread. Those of us who came to the US from “mother Russia” will never forget the bread of our childhood – dark, dense, with it’s incredible distinct aroma. If you think you bought the real Borodinsky bread in one of the Russian stores here, or, online (apparently they sell it for a pretty penny) think again – this bread has very little to do with the real thing.
The class, which thankfully, was just five minute walk from me, is rather expensive. This is considering that I couldn’t even try the bread or any other delicacies that were spread on the table in a dining room of a lavishly decorated apartment in my neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was, decidedly, unkosher. So unkosher that I saw things on the table that I haven’t even seen in years. Surprisingly, though, I was absolutely fine by eating dates, which to my luck had a heksher, and tasty tangerines . Didn’t feel even a slight inclination to eat treif.
The class is run by two enthusiasts of bread baking. I don’t know anything about them, but they do seem to know their stuff well. The whole process of making Borodinsky (and quite a few rye breads as far as I know) takes a long while. You start by preparing or getting from someone a sour rye starter which you have to “feed” and only then after you have a good starter, you make your bread, which takes a whole day.
I did not eat the bread that was made beforehand by the ladies, but I saw the whole new bread making process asking plenty of questions, and even that took 4 hours. So, for me to make it myself, it will take a whole day not counting the starter process. The ladies recommend using Russian flour, Russian malt, and Russian-made baking forms that apparently have better heat circulation for a bread like this.
What can I say? It’s an art and a piece of work woven together. I got the starter. Now, I am hoping to make this fragrant, dense and flavorful beauty all by myself sometime before Thanksgiving. If I can master that, I will, for sure stop buying bread altogether.