Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How I overcame my fear and learned to love the bread

Since I love bread SO much, I have some serious reverence for good bread. And a lot of the time, that means I end up paying a premium for the bestest bread. Why do I do that? Because baking, unlike cooking,  requires you to follow a strict set of directions. And directions and I do not get along. Usually when I bake, I end up making one dumb decision and mucking up the whole batch.

One time, I decided to make cookies. In the process, I added a little bit of 99 apples. Also known as apple schnopps. Why? Because apple is yummy, right? Well the cookies would have been great if they didn't taste exactly like an apple jolly rancher. Gross. And then there was the time I decided I could substitute a lot of the fat in brownies with pudding mix. Those ones had the texture of a Sham WOW! Seriously. Once we discovered you could eat them frozen, it was ok... but man, warm or at room temperature, those were some seriously bizarre brownies.

So you can see my dilemma. Why mess with something that is already so perfect? Little by little, I started adding baked stuff into my repertoire. Popovers came first. So innocuous. Blast the ingredients in a blender, pop in the oven, and bam, you gots some popovers.

Pizza dough came next, which morphed into bread sticks. A huge hit. Also very easy.

Project bread started on Sunday, during mothersauce meltdown. I made a rosemary olive oil no knead bread that was extremely fluffy, but devoid of any salt (oops) and thus lacking in the flavor department.

Finally, I solved the mystery. Last night, I got an arm workout and a half making this loaf of bread. And omg it's like real bread!

Herby bread with parmesan scroll
Serves 1 Amy

  • 1 Cup warm/hot water
  • 1 Tbsp honey 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for topping
  • 3 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon salt
  • Chopped thyme
  • Black pepper
  • Mustard powder
  • Other herbs of your choice (I used some rosemary from my baby herb garden)
Mix water, honey, and yeast well in a big bowl. The honey will cause the yeast to start foaming, and you want to wait for this to happen before adding anything else. It'll probably take 5 minutes. Add in 1/4 cup olive oil, along with garlic powder and salt. Mix well, and add in flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well.

The dough will now be kind of piecy. Lightly flour your surface, and knead the dough for about 5-8 minutes. Add more flour if it's really sticky, but stop kneading before dough gets hard. 

Spray the big bowl you made the dough in with some kind of oil spray and place the dough ball in the bowl. Put in a warm place until dough has doubled, about an hour. You can preheat your oven to 450F at this time, and if your dough isn't rising, put it on top of the oven. It'll work, trust me.

Fortunately for me, I was making mac and cheese with leftover beschamel at the time, and cooked bacon in one of my baking pans. I took out most of the bacon fat, but didn't clean the pan. I took the big ball of dough and spread it slightly flattishly. I spread the parmesan cheese on the surface, and folded in the edges. Placed the ball, seam-side down, in the bacon pan. Made a mixture of olive oil and herbs, and brushed the top liberally. Then I cut an x over the top of the loaf and baked for 30 minutes. I spritzed water into the oven every few minutes, but I don't know if that made a difference. 

Anyway, long story short, there's only half a loaf left. If I can get a camera to it before my mouth makes it there, I'll post a better photo than the one I took with my laptop. Oh, and bacon bottom tastes AWESOME!

Voila. I did it!

Photos this time obviously NOT by Ben : heliotrope.ucsd.edu

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