The evenings have become cooler in Minneapolis, and I thought I would make some Black Bread.  There’s a really great recipe for this most famous of rye breads in ‘Beard on Bread’, by James Beard, which is a pretty amazing cookbook devoted strictly to breadmaking.  It’s always been one of my favorite breads, but I don’t have it very often, and I usually only make it 2 or 3 times a year.

Yesterday, however, when I mixed the bread dough … my liquid must have been a couple of degrees too hot.  I murdered the yeast.  I shaped the bread into loaves anyway, and left it overnight- thinking that maybe the leaven might just have enough energy to rise as a sourdough (which would almost be TWICE as good as my original plans!)  When I got up this morning -nothing.  Yeast is a sensitive plant, and I don’t usually kill it- mainly because I’ve been baking bread for probably 35 years.  But I still manage to kill the yeast every few years or so.

After a brief examination, I turned on the oven, got out the pastry cloth, rolling pin and docker (it pokes little holes or indentations in pastry and other doughs, and sometimes to tenderize meat -as for veal or chicken picatta).  I thought of that Miles Davis quote and started making flatbread.  It took 10 minutes, it baked in 15, and it will remain good in a storage container  for many weeks.  Actually it will remain good almost indefinitely.  We always heard about some of my mom’s ancestors arriving in North America by big boat.  The matriarch, great grandmother Giesler, baked flatbread for weeks before departing Europe, enough to fill one of those big wooden steamer trunks.  As it turned out, the ship ran out of food midway across the Atlantic, but there was enough flatbread to keep body and soul together  for more than one whole family.  That always impressed us.

I made flatbread for the first time when I was in high school after I read a bunch of recipes in The Mother Earth News in the mid-1970s.  I thought it was exciting, and that was when mom told the story of the ocean trip flatbread.   Blackbread is good, but flat blackbread is really good too!

The other way that famous Miles Davis aphorism is sometimes quoted:  ‘Fear no mistakes.  There are none.’