Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cold day, warm hearth, bread and cookies

It was COLD yesterday morning.  5 degrees F and windy.  The house was cold.  Only one fire had made it through the night.  I opened up the damper, fed it some more wood and soaked in some heat.  It was 49 degrees in the room with the stove (5 degrees above the kick-in temp for the furnace.  I'm hedging my bets this winter by keeping the furnace active.  We have had enough wrecks here...)  The rest of the house was colder, somewhere around 40.  Outside the snow sparkled in the moonlight and the trees creaked and popped in the wind.  Inside, as I lay in a new fire in the now cold living room hearth, the coffee pot gurgled and hissed, the dogs grumbled, and the wood stove pinged as the metal changed from warm to hot.  Within a few minutes the new fire was crackling, the coffee was done, and I was sipping my first cup, listening to my world awake.

Cold days are great for baking.  It adds a little heat and steam to the house, smells wonderful, fills bellies, and makes smiles.  All these things make baking the perfect activity for a cold day.  I usually start with bread.  It takes the hottest oven.  We step down the oven temperature as the day progresses, taking advantage of the heat already soaked into the baking stone.  Today we started with a braided bread.  The dough was already in the refrigerator, so it was an easy fast thing to start with. 

After the bread we made bagels.  They boiled while the bread baked.  When the bread came out the bagels were ready to pop into the still hot oven.
Next the kids made cookies - chocolate chip and gingersnaps.  One can never have too many cookies this time of year.

While we baked, the dogs played.  I'm thinking the house might be too small for two dogs.

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