People who Inspire me–Hani

Cheesy Jaco; one loaf of Aetena Hlaf or Oat Bread

Gave Jaco to Hani and his family–the oat loaf stayed home

Hani is my web guy extraordinaire. He designed my website and helps me on an ongoing basis to keep the site fresh. I’m not sure what sort of career he would have had if he were living in Saint Brigid’s time (this month is all about the fifth century for me…), but he is a creative and technical genius. Perhaps he would have handcrafted swords, like the one Saint Brigid gave away to the leper? Her father wasn’t so happy about that act of charity. Or maybe he would have helped Saint Brigid market her new community at Kildare. Somebody had to help her spread the news of that community, which attracted both folks wanting to enter the monastic life, and others who were artists, bakers, and everything in between. All I know is that Hani’s not only talented, but oh-so-very nice. An inspirational man in a world that needs to breed more gentleman like him. Thanks, Hani, for all you do…

You can find out more about Hani and the work he does here, at Hani\’s website.

Fifth Century News

Baking in the fifth century could have meant using the overnight rise technique that I’m having such fun with. I wonder how Saint Brigid, born around 453, baked her bread? Did she bake it in a pot? They loved pots; most of their meals were one-pot soups and stews, made over an open flame. Or did she have an oven at her disposal? Probably. Anyway, I do know they had barley, rye, wheat and oats at their disposal, which are the grains I’ll be fiddling with all month…until Saint Brigid’s feast day on February 1st.

(A note on the bread. The cheese jaco I made for Hani was yummy. I know, not because I snipped a bit of Hani’s loaf! that just wouldn’t be nice, but because I divided off a small portion of the dough for us to bake, then sample. The oat loaf, a new venture into fifth century food, was quite delicious! Sweet, moist, flavorful. The kids loved it and it is filled with good foods–oats, whole and unbleached wheat flour, honey and milk.  I adapted the recipe from one found in Tastes of Anglo-Saxon England by Mary Savelli.)

Couldn’t resist one more photo of Hani and his son, Lucas. When I delivered the bread, Lucas let me hold him about a dozen times. I was in baby heaven. Lucas is inspiring in his own right!

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5 thoughts on “People who Inspire me–Hani

  1. Thanks for the humbling words, Jane. 🙂 The loaf of bread you made was extraordinary! My wife and I (Lucas had some as well) could have eaten the whole thing in one sitting. THANK YOU! What a wonderful gift!

    PS: Perhaps I should take up my fifth century calling as a sword maker…that would be fun!

  2. I am loving your blog. Are you possibly able to post the oat bread recipe? I’m assuming recipes are generally copyrighted…

    And would love your perspective on The Bread Bible (Rose Levy Berenbaum).

    • Selena: Welcome–so great to have you here! I haven’t seen the Bread Bible, so can’t comment. But how fun–another bread book to look into and try. Do you have it? I’d love to hear what you think about it… One of my very favorite bread books is “Dough” by Richard Bertinet. The method is unique, and effective, and he even includes a DVD in the book to help you really visualize his mixing method.

      And of course, if you’ve read through my past blog posts, I’m having so much fun with Jim Lahey’s no-knead recipes. I’m calling it Pain a la Suzanne, after my sister, but that’s not really all that fair to Mr. Lahey. I add a sour starter to mine, usually, so it’s a teeny bit different than his recipe, but he re-publicized this ancient way of baking really good hearth bread.

      Since I adapted the oat bread recipe into a pot recipe, I don’t mind sharing how I did it. But I don’t feel comfortable posting Mary Savelli’s recipe straight from her book. It’s pretty tasty, though:)

      Heat 1/2 cup of milk–pour over 1/2 cup of rolled oats

      Let cool

      Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 2 cups unbleached white flour, plus 1/4 teaspoon of yeast and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in bowl.

      Add 1/4 cup honey, 3 Tablespoons of melted and cool butter, or canola oil (that’s what I used) to flour mixture. Add the cooled oats, too. You could add a beaten egg, too, if you like…

      Add 1 cup of cool water. More if the mix is still dry-ish…

      Mix together well, the dough should be sticky and almost batter like. Cover with a plate or pot lid–or plastic wrap.

      Leave for 12-18 hours. It will be bubbly and so very full of life. I typically leave my mixes for about 15 hours.

      Dump out of bowl onto floured surface. Use lots of flour to fold it around a bit, then mold into a round. (I’m going to video this whole process in just a few days…)

      Flour a linen cloth. Really flour it. Put the round of dough on the cloth, flour the sides and top and fold the cloth over to completely cover. Allow to rise for two hours.

      Heat your oven to 450, with the pot inside about 30 minutes before baking. Once it’s hot, and the dough has risen for two hours, pull the pot out carefully, removing the top with oven mitts. Careful here –lots of hot surfaces all around!

      Dump the dough out of the linen cloth so the bottom side is now on the top. Cover the pot and put it in the oven.

      Bake with the pot top on for 30 minutes.

      Take the top off, then bake for another 15-30 minutes. I usually bake for at least 20 minutes and most of the time for another 30. I like crusty bread.

      Let it cool for at least an hour on a rack.

      Okay. Phew. There it is! This will be a hearth-like bread, not a soft, pan bread. But the flavor is excellent. If you don’t like the thick crust that a pot provides, then you could take this same recipe and adapt it for the typical two hour first rise, then mold, and second hour rise–and bake at a lower temperature–at maybe 375 for 45 minutes… You would have to increase the yeast considerably, to about 2 1/2 teaspoons…

      Okay, off to bake!

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