I think it’s about time we have a discussion about all those “promise” recipes. A while back, a recipe called “Engagement Chicken” was making its rounds on the Internets Place. Supposedly, if you made this chicken for your boyfriend, he would certainly propose marriage shortly after. How could he not?! You’d made Engagement Chicken! Surely the synapses of his brain would HAVE to start misfiring in heart-shaped explosions and cause him to do the thing that he doesn’t want to do that you want him to do that you’re going to make him do by…making chicken! Everybody knows that chain letters are, like, sooo effective, so Engagement Chicken must work, too!
Long story short, desperate girlfriends around the globe tried this recipe. Guess we’re just hard-wired for witchcraft, science be damned.
Anyway, there’s a bread recipe for getting your boyfriend to say, “I love you,” too.
Which I don’t get, because I am all for spells and casting and chocolate frog-esque magic and shiznit, but if I were trying to get The Boy to say, “I love you,” it would probably go something like this:
Me: “Say ‘I love you’ right now!”
The Boy: “Why?”
Me: “Just say it or I’ll make you eat chicken!”
The Boy: “Chicken sounds awesome. I was going to say ‘I love you,” but now I’m going to withhold my ‘I love you’ until I get chicken.”
Me: “Say ‘I love you’!”
The Boy: “No. Not until I get chicken.”
But as it is, The Boy says “I love you” without the promise of chicken, and I make chicken without the promise of “I love you.” Fancy that! So effortless, so unforced! Almost like…the way love is supposed to work!
Because the way love is REALLY supposed to work, is I’m supposed to get a pony. If we don’t have a car, I’m going to need an equine form of transportation. A cute one. Also, a hot pink one.
But I don’t have a pony yet. Bad The Boy! Bad! Guess I’d better make some Pumpkin Sunflower Seed Sourdough. Surely that’ll fix everything!
Well, it’s still 40 times more effective than Engagement Chicken.
Pumpkin Sunflower Seed Sourdough Loaf
Makes 1 large loaf
1 cup sourdough starter (don’t bother proofing it first)
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
4 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat, 2 1/2 cups white)
optional: 3 Tablespoons wheat germ (I think this adds depth and rusticity and makes a more old-fashioned tasting loaf, but you can leave it out without a problem)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup (heaping) shelled sunflower seeds
Mix the sourdough starter with water, then beat in half the flour. Now add the rest of the flour with the salt and wheat germ.
The dough should hold together in a lump, but be looser than the bread doughs you’re used to. It needs to be loose enough that you can lump it up and put it in the bowl and it will gradually lose its shape to conform to the sides of the bowl. Add flour or water a Tablespoon at a time if you need to adjust the consistency.
Now cover your dough and put it in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, or up to 4 or 5 days. The dough will take on a more sour flavor as it ages, and you’ll come to learn how long it takes to get it right where you want it. During the aging process, your bread will also develop its gluten structure and ferment away the grains’ outer coating, rendering your bread more nutritious and easier to digest.
When you’re ready for bread, put a pizza stone on the oven’s center rack, and a small-ish, heat-proof dish or bowl on a lower rack. Pizza stones yield a crisper crust and heat food more evenly–The Boy and I leave ours in the oven all the time. If you don’t have a pizza stone, use an overturned cookie sheet. The small dish or bowl will be used to hold water and generate steam, which makes for a chewier crust. Now preheat the oven to 375.
Meanwhile, liberally sprinkle your work surface with flour. Plop the dough out onto it, sprinkle a little more flour on top, and gently start to shape the dough by folding the outside edges over and under the bread, forming a tight-ish ball. You can also divide the dough into smaller pieces and make small balls for individual rolls.
When the bread is shaped the way you like it, liberally sprinkle a wooden cutting board or pizza peel with cornmeal. Put the loaf on top, and set a timer for 40 minutes.
When 40 minutes have elapsed, it’s time to bake. Right before putting the loaf in the oven, pour a cupful of water into the dish that’s waiting in the oven and quickly shut the door. Lightly sprinkle the top of your loaf with flour and use a sharp knife to slash a few vent holes in the top. Then quickly open the oven door, use a swift, jerking motion to slide the loaf onto the center of the pizza stone, then quickly shut the door and walk away. Resist the urge to peek too soon, because you want to keep the steam trapped in there.
Errant cornmeal will make it smell like your house is burning down. Ignore this. Bake until the loaf is a deep golden color, about 50 minutes, but don’t be afraid to let it go a little longer and take on some intense color. Carefully remove it to a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing it open (do this too soon and the loaf may not finish cooking on the inside).
© 2011, Genevieve P. Charet. All rights reserved.