Loaf is another word I find kinda icky that actually describes an abundance of things I adore (I’ve shared my feelings on the tasty repulsiveness of curd in the past). Bread (both quick and not), meat, the act of loafing – these are all things I thoroughly enjoy. As my friend Danielle pointed out, there are other things that could be fashioned into a loaf if one was so inclined – a frittata or cheese for example. Um, what? Why on earth would you serve a “loaf of egg stuff” as opposed to a frittata, which is such a pretty word (for such a weird fake quiche thing). Cheese is one of my favorite things ever; calling it a log is bad enough, a loaf is just unappetizing. But I applaud her creativity in finding other loafy items.
The point of all this (yes, I occasionally have a point), is that I decided to attempt baking bread again. My former attempts were immediately after receiving my KitchenAid mixer and they went the way of my pie crusts – dense and dry. We had A LOT of bread in the house, and none of it was very good. B rightfully began to question my roll as domestic goddess.
While visiting a few weeks ago, Emily convinced me to try the basic recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. She swears by it. I was skeptical. It’s bread. I will probably break it (and not in the biblical or social way). But I had all of the ingredients and no valid excuses. I even had a reason – Danielle and her newly cohabiting boyfriend Sean just adopted a kitten and decided to host a dinner party/evening of “watching Sammy chase toys, watching Sammy run into boxes and bags, and watching Sammy lick my neck like I’m his mom. ” In case you’re wondering, Sammy did all of these things repeatedly and was pretty damn cute about it. This is Sammy:
Um, yeah, so back to the bread. The recipe really is as easy as they say it is, though my first loaf (dubbed the experimental loaf, which I kept in my purse all night, just in case we needed it) came out looking more like the pictures than my attempts to make baguette shaped loaves without a baguette pan.
One of those worked but deflated when I stupidly cut it in half not knowing how to determine the doneness of bread.
The upside is it all tasted good. It tasted even better when Danielle slathered the cheesy garlicy goodness she’d concocted all over it.
So, not really sure what I’m doing wrong on the whole density thing, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with the Experimental Loaf of 2011. I even ordered a baguette pan (shhh…don’t tell B, he might leave me if he realizes I brought yet another pan into the house). If I can make bread, you can make bread. So go make bread. I’ll post more photos of the actual making of bread rather than just the (slightly questionable) results later.
Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
(this, photos and excellent tips I probably should have read because they pretty much answer everything I just wondered on www.artisanbreadinfive.com)
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons Morton’s Kosher Salt
6 1/2 cups (2-pounds) unbleached all-purpose flour
- In a 5 or 6 quart bowl or lidded Food Storage Container, dump in the water and add the yeast and salt.
- Dump in the flour all at once and stir with a long handled wooden spoon
- Stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough, it will be a wet rough dough.
- Put the lid on the container, but do not snap it shut. You want the gases from the yeast to escape.
- Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to rise.
- The dough will be flat on the top and some of the bubbles may even appear to be popping. (If you intend to refrigerate the dough after this stage it can be placed in the refrigerator even if the dough is not perfectly flat. The yeast will continue to work even in the refrigerator.) The dough can be used right after the initial 2 hour rise, but it is much easier to handle when it is chilled – I left it in the fridge over night.
- When you pull the dough out of the refrigerator you will notice that it has collapsed – this is totally normal. It will never rise up again in the container.
- Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour, just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out.
- Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough using kitchen shears and form it into a ball. Place the ball on a sheet of parchment paper or rest it on a generous layer of corn meal on top of a pizza peel
- Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes (it won’t rise a whole lot, but may spread out on the sides)
- near the end of the resting time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a pizza stone on the center rack, with a metal broiler tray on the bottom
- Cut the loaf with 1/4-inch slashes using a serrated knife (I did a checkerboard pattern)
- Slide the loaf into the oven onto the preheated stone and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown color. If you used parchment paper you will want to remove it after about 20-25 minutes to crisp up the bottom crust. Continue baking the loaf directly on the stone for the last 5-10 minutes.
- Allow the loaf to cool on a rack until it is room temperature. “If you cut into a loaf before it is cooled you will have a tough crust and a gummy interior.” MYSTERY SOLVED
Danielle’s Cheesy Garlicy Goodness
(Danielle and I share the same aversion to measuring)
basil (the paste that comes in a tube)
2 grated garlic cloves
some peccorino romano
some parmigiano reggiano
and some olive oil
dash of pepper
That’s exactly what she gave me. I’ll try to guestimate what she did – 4ish oz of goat cheese (one of the little logs), 1 Tbsp basil paste (you could use chopped fresh too), a few Tbsps each of the peccorino and parm and a few tsps of olive oil. I’m totally making all of that up, so start with the goat cheese and adjust to taste.
Combine in a bowl.
Slather on warm crusty bread.
Preferably before dinner, it’s a great way to ruin your appetite.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the basil in a tube thing, evidently it’s in the produce section of the grocery store. I’m going to go look right now.