Friday, January 15, 2010

did someone say hot bread?

So I succumbed to the artisan bread frenzy.......... it's everywhere; facebook, clayart, internet, my new issue of Mother Earth News. WTF!
And since I have been making bread for over thirty years and had never tried anything like this I had to jump in.
I used the recipe of:
6 cups of water, 3 T. of kosher salt, 3T Yeast and 13 cups of flour (used bread flour) and 13 cups = a 5 LB bag.

Got out my giant ceramic bread bowl ....... 14" wide and deep (think baby bath tub!) and commenced throwing flour all over the kitchen, myself and the dog who kept
trying to lick it off the floor. (it came off the counter it must be delicious!) He must have pasted his tongue to the roof of his mouth because he kept running out to get a drink of water. At this rate he won't be pooping for a week!
The dough is supposed to be pretty wet and it is. Stirring a 5 pound bag of flour is a bit of task but I thought; Hey I'm a potter and can center 22 pounds of clay so this should be a cake walk! It's not! The recipe stated in big bold letters; DO NOT KNEAD THIS DOUGH! If you must touch the dough wet your hands! This made no sense what so ever to wet my hands so I just used the tips of my fingers to try to make the dough behave and push it back into the bowl and down the shaft of the giant wooden spoon I was using. Immediately I felt like Tar Baby! Now up to my armpits in dough I pried myself free and washed. With my wet hands I went back in. ALWAYS WET YOUR HANDS BEFORE TOUGHING THE WAD OF DOUGH! Why this works is a mystery to me but it does.

The one thing I read over and over from many different sources; let it raise and collapse.
Figure the extra gluten in the bread flour and the rise and collapse of the dough it should work. Mixed everything up around 9 p.m. moved the
bowl to then end of the counter while I cleaned the kitchen and mopped the floor. At 11:30 p.m. or so I moved the giant burping bowl onto
the screened porch where it was 26 degrees........ and went to bed.

Got up the next morning and found it still growing even in the cold of the porch! It had collapsed like it was supposed to and had a nice flat top.
Brought it in around 7 am and whacked off two pieces about the size of a baby head grapefruit. Rounded them off and set them to raise. OK here is
where I dispute the recipe. The recipe says no matter what it looks like after 40 minutes toss it in a hot oven. So I did(even though my inside bakers voice said; You are making cannon balls here, don't do it)...... ignoring my bakers voice I moved the two loaves that
had been raising on a cutting board on cornmeal into the 450 degree oven (with a pan of water on the bottom shelf) onto a hot piece of marble, flipped (shiny side down)
Slammed the door shut and baked for 40 minutes while the dog and I danced with excitement. I peaked at 15 minutes and bread looked stellar!
But had not raised as much as the recipe stated....... I KNEW IT! Oh just dance anyway but the dog was really tired so I ran and did computer work until the timer went off. Ran back to turn the timer off and pull out my two loaves of perfect bread that had perfumed the house to make the neighbors think I had opened a French bakery!

YIKES! the two
loaves had sort of joined and looked more like kitchen porn than two loaves of bread! Of course I posted them on Facebook!! I think everybody was too embarrassed to post anything! You should have seen Butch when I took it out of the oven. OH suck it up, I am slicing and we are going to taste it! The flavor was fab! but it seemed
a bit doughy for me. But still the taste was so good and crust so crunchy and yummy we ate the whole loaf by bed time, we waddled off to bed and went into a carb coma. The second loaf we sliced the next morning for toast and have to say it seemed to have time to dry out and was not as doughy, toasted up pretty well. So we ate that too......

By this time I was getting pretty tired of tasting bread and was feeling quite bloated. But now I had this giant bowl of dough I had to deal with soooooo if you make the original recipe you really have to make bread every damn morning! Yesterday as the dough oozed over the sides of the bowl I begrudgingly made another loaf, just one and only one. This time I made my perfect round loaf at 9 am, went out and cleaned the studio, came in at noon for coffee and the bread looked pretty good.
Tossed it in the oven while I drank coffee and ate yet another piece of toast from yesterday's lead ball and sat down to watch the nightmare in Haiti and catch up on email. Timer went off and the bread was perfect! Well until I tried to cut into it. It had quite a crust! Unable to cut through the crust I just ripped it apart and wished I had a big bowl of soup to dunk it in. Maybe next months challenge. This loaf was delicious but really, really crunchy! Instantly I was transported back to Vienna standing in front of the Wasserbrot stand eating hot delicious bread out of both hands! But then I was walking 10 miles a day and forgetting to eat lunch!
The dog loved the really crunchy scraps!!

Here it is day three and I have another loaf going on the counter and I have a damp kitchen towel over the dough to see if I can get that crust to be not quite so crusty!
Good God by Sunday morning I should be seized up completely as I now feel my joints aching. White Flour is the devil!

I still have a pretty good bowl of dough left and not sure I would mix this much up again. You have to be eating a lot of bread! OH the same bowl of dough you can make pizza or sticky buns. oh joy...... I think tonight will be pizza night! and then one more loaf of bread tomorrow and the bread dough will be gone! Thank God!
You know I had almost stopped eating bread before I started this odyssey! Going back to my bowl of raisin bran and forgoing the bread today as I am sure this might kill me. I might have to throw myself on the wooden spoon to let the gas escape from my gut! Talk about taking one for the team! and you should see the dog, he has stopped dancing and I am making him sleep on Dad's side of the bed! Soon as I send this I am on the tread mill for a good hour as I am feeling just awful! In my quest for the perfect loaf of bread I have had to sacrifice myself.......... again to fulfill my quest. Last month it was cheesecake........... we did find it!
This is NOT a good winter hobby!

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