It has occurred to me late in the game that all of this time I could have been using my bread baking not only as catharsis but also as a study device. Bread can be more than nutrition; it can be education. Let me explain.
Because I spent the last week on ICU and was constantly doing chest Xrays, fussing with trach collars and ventilators, it got me thinking about the lungs. I considered making a ventilator in a square pan, but that seemed a bit square. Going for the anatomical, I decided instead to make bread lungs. It made the most sense to create a pull-apart bread recipe, to better represent the lobes of the lungs, and, because I am on a surgical rotation week after next, to practice my lobectomy. Kudos to any pathologists out there who can make apt diagnoses as to the health of these lungs.
Pull-Apart Wheat Bread Lungs
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (85°F to 95°F)
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm whole milk (105°F to 115°F)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 1/2 cups (about) bread flour
Warm milk, stir in honey, and salt, then olive oil. Add 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and stir vigorously with wood spoon until well incorporated. Pour in all of the sourdough starter. Add enough bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form moist and sticky dough, stirring vigorously with wood spoon until well incorporated. Mix in raisins and walnuts. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. If you don’t have time right now, at this point, refrigerate dough overnight. But if you want to eat it today, let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (do not punch down dough).
Spray baking sheet (or ideally, a baking stone, alas I did not pack mine in my carry-on) or lay down parchment paper.
How many lobes are in the right lung? 3 (Right Upper, Right Middle, and Right Lower) The right lower lobe should be the biggest, and the right middle the smallest, so section the dough appropriately. The left lung has two lobes (Left Upper and Left Lower). Why? Because the heart bears leftward thanks to the heavy gravity on the muscly left ventricle. So just two equalish sections on the left.
On the right side, you need to form the horizontal fissure between the right upper and middle lobes, and the oblique fissure between the top two and right lower lobe. The left is easy. Just angle the oblique fissure toward the cardiac notch. If you want to be a real gunner, and I am not, you could create medially some kind of crystallized ginger hilum with the pulmonary arteries, veins, and main bronchi. For medical students, don’t forget the RALS rule (pulmonary artery in Right is Anterior to the bronchi and in Left it is Superior—that’ll save you on the anatomy lab practical).
Okay, enough nerdiness, time to bake!
Transfer lungs to prepared pan, being careful not to deflate dough—no one wants atelectatic bread. Cover loaf pan loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm draft-free area until dough is puffed and almost reaches top of pan, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 500°F. Generously spray inside of oven with water (about 8 sprays), or place a pan of water on the bottom rack to provide a little steam action (helps with crusting). Immediately place bread in oven. Lower oven temperature to 400°F and bake bread until top is deep brown and crusty and when you thump it, it sounds hollow. This took for me about 35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Turn bread out onto rack and cool completely.
I’d say this patient was a smoker. It’s because of the glaze–one whole egg mixed with 2 tbsp milk (optional). Perform lobectomy and enjoy while you study!