It’s only taken me three months to make some progress on the first item on that list of meaningless things to learn in 2011.
Flour, water, yeast, salt. Four simple ingredients. That means there must be some time, energy and skill involved in making this stuff…or else everyone would be doing it.
In which case…my efforts are doomed. But that won’t stop me from trying!
The last time I attempted bread (and that was an easy quick bread, so it didn’t really count), Jess recommended taking a look at the book Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg. So I got it. And I read it. [And it told me that I needed a pizza stone, so I risked my life to acquire one.]
Francois and Hertzberg describe airy, crusty loaves, which purportedly can be crafted with no fancy equipment and minimal talent and effort. It sounds too good to be true. I’m not sure I fully understand the culinary science behind their approach, but basically you make “wet dough” ahead of time and refrigerate it. Something about hanging out in the fridge negates the need for yeast-proofing and kneading. And when you want fresh bread, you just take out a hunk of dough, let it rise for half an hour, and bake it.
Worth a shot, right?
So over the weekend I made my dough. I literally threw it together during a commercial break. If I were Desi Davila, I’d have been hard pressed to run a marathon-pace mile in the time that this took.
(Also, if I were Desi Davila, I’d be out celebrating my off-the-charts awesomeness right now instead of blogging about a stupid loaf of bread.)
Anyway. Putting the dough together was super quick. I figured that if I were to screw up, it would be related to the yeast, so I played it safe and used cool-ish water to avoid killing it. (The book claims that this is no problem, as long as you extend the rise time. I let it sit for four hours before sticking it in the fridge.)
Tonight, I grabbed a hunk ‘o dough and let it sit out for about 40 minutes. It didn’t seem like it had risen much, but…oh well. I carved a “scallop” pattern before transferring it to the hot pizza stone.
Thirty minutes later:
Smaller and denser than a bakery loaf, but pretty darn cute nonetheless!
And that nice crusty crust!
I’m not sure what I can to do make it puffier. I definitely did not get any of those delectable chewy air bubbles in the interior, like you get with bakery bread. Any experienced bread bakers want to weigh in here?
In any case, I felt pretty good about this first attempt. And as always, I do realize that I have impeccable timing: apologies to my Jewish readers who are swearing off fluffy baked things as of tonight.
I guess that just means more crusty bread for me!
Today’s EAT: I think I let that loaf cool for all of five minutes before attacking it with a knife and moving it to my dinner plate.
With thinly-sliced brie and smoked wild salmon, grapes and salad. I love no-cook dinners!
And I love smoked salmon, but another member of this household has me beat. The fat panther went apeshit when I opened the package.
I caved and shared. Because our vet has previously pointed out that fish oil might be good for his mild kitty dandruff – and this is pretty much the same thing, right? (Although as the hubs pointed out: “I’m pretty sure the vet didn’t mean $20/lb smoked salmon.” True.)
Also, I thought dinner should be a little light. I dug in to this thing several times this morning/afternoon.
A giant bag of tiny candy bars – from Costco, of course. I’m not even a big candy person but for some reason I could not stop unwrapping mini Butterfingers while watching the Boston coverage today. (And obsessively refreshing my bib-stalking page as a certain someone closed in on a stellar PR!)
Today’s DRINK: A nice glass of red sounded good tonight.
Enter this “Yard Dog” red from Red Heads Studio in Australia. 60% Petit Verdot, 20% Cab, 20% Merlot. I guess it is supposed to be a blend of “neglected” grapes – which come together to create a tough mutt? Not sure about all that, but I do know that for an $8 bottle, I really like this wine. Lots of cherry flavors. Full-bodied, but easy to drink. (Purchased at Whole Foods.)
Today’s RUN: An easy seven miles. My calves are still crampy from yesterday’s mileage, which is a little annoying. I’ll be sporting my compression sleeves at work tomorrow!
Last week’s recap:
M – 7 easy (1:01:45, 8:48 pace)
Tu – AM 3.4 easy (30:00, 8:49 pace), PM 4.4 easy (40:00, 9:05 pace)
W – OFF
Th – 4.1 easy (35:00, 8:32 pace)
F – 7.3 easy (1:05, 8:53 pace)
Sa – 5K race, 8.1 total (1:07, 8:14 pace)
Su – AM 7.6 easy (1:02, 8:09 pace), PM 6.1 easy (1:03, 10:19 pace)
Total: 48.1 miles. Not bad…but I totally ignored the concept of speedwork and didn’t actually get a long run in. Oops.
Today’s QUESTION: Any tricks or tips on getting bread to grow? It looked like it had doubled when I left it to sit for its first rise, just after mixing it. But today, after I took it out of the fridge to bake it, it pretty much stayed the same size. Meh.