If the soul has a smell, it is the smell of old books, and possibly wheat bread. The Divine Comedy of Dante offers me its soul smell this morning. I have been remiss, I realize, in not sharing much poetry during April—the National Month of Poetry! I turned to the Purgatorio, level: Gluttony, to find some verse on the virtue and vice of eating.
And I heard the Angel voice recite:
Blessed are they whom Grace so lights within
That the love of food in them does not excite
Excessive appetite, but who take pleasure
In keeping every hunger within measure.
Pain Complet Aux Currant
Whole-Wheat French Bread
Adapted from The Village Baker
1 ¼ cups scalded milk
2 packages active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 cup currants
Glaze: 1 egg whisked with one tbsp. milk
Pour flour on work surface and make a fountain space in the center. Mix the yeast and warm milk in the center, and gradually expand the mixing circles (with your finger) to bring in the whole wheat flour. Continue mixing until you have a stringy paste. Sprinkle salt, and incorporate the rest of the flour. It will be a moist dough. Knead dough for five minutes. Let dough rise, covered, for one hour. Punch it back and let it rise for another 30 minutes.
Fold dough and roll into a tight log, incorporating the currants like was done with the apricots and almonds in this bread. Seal the edges with a hand. Place loaf on parchment paper and let it rise for one hour. Preheat oven to 425. Glaze the loaf and bake for 35 minutes, until it is a deep brown color.
This was fabulous, like wheat ciabatta bread. 5 stars. I plan to persist in the old books for the remainder of the month (now that I am home in Rochester, and happily sitting among them again). A poem a day keeps.