Monday, November 26, 2007

This is a story in which I make the same bread three times and decide I need more bread-baking experience.

I joined Daring Bakers after seeing their delicious works time and time again linked to via tastespotting (which you MUST go visit!)  Tanna, of My Kitchen in Half-Cups, challenged us with a savory potato bread recipe.  I've been making a lot of whole wheat bread with help from Laurel's cookbook, I'm damn skilled with english muffin bread, and who can mess up no-knead bread?  So off I went!

I made the recipe three separate times with minor variations, none of which changed the deliciousness drastically, and each of which I learned what to do or not do.  Unfortunately even the ones I considered failures I don't have many pictures of, as they were all eaten pretty quickly, with the exception of the first "artisan-style" loaf. 

I shaped it similar to Laurel's bread book - roll it into a circle and fold in the edges somewhat like a flower, let it rest, and repeat.  It rose on well-floured towel.  I preheated my old 1970's corningware 4 qt dish at 450ºF, dropped the risen loaf in, spritzed it with water, threw on the lid, and baked it next to the loaf in the pan.  I unfortunately didn't think to turn down the temperature (as others noted, they baked at 450F for 10', then 375F for the remaining time - which I did on trials 2 and 3.)

The second time around I made a loaf and some rolls.  They were going along swimmingly until someone texted me and said "Hey, let's go to the diner and get dinner!"  I threw the bread and rolls into the fridge, hoping the rising would retard just enough to get me through an hour or two of enjoying tea and company.  The bread over-rose a bit but the rolls didn't rise at all, and sadly I had to throw most of them away.  (the loaf of bread is almost gone, but here's a picture I got of its crumb yesterday before it was finished off!)

The third time I made rolls for Thanksgiving and turned the rest into a loaf (no-knead style again).  Rolls had fresh chives from my garden (now relocated to pots for the winter); loaf had fresh chopped garlic.  Before the proofing stage, I rolled each flat, pressed the chopped garlic or chives into the dough, then rolled it up and cut or shaped it accordingly.  The rolls this time were beautiful; I forgot to take pictures before they got eaten!  The artisan-loaf was frozen until last night when it was the side-dish for my homemade tomato soup, since the boy was sick.

I learned a few very important things -
*  Make sure the room is WARM ENOUGH for rising!  
*  Dissolve the yeast entirely in the warm liquid to make sure none is left behind
*  Add the salt to the second cup of flour, not into the first (according to Baking911.  I did this with the third trial, and I swear it was the magic step for the rolls!)
*  If you accidentally butter a pan you won't use and can't bring yourself to waste the butter, press saran wrap onto all the edges and store the pan in the fridge until it's time to bake the rolls. :)  It will be FINE.

I'm looking forward to my next Daring Bakers challenge!  I'm hoping it's something that won't interfere with making dad's holiday bread, which I MUST make.  Oh, and biscotti.  I made Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites biscotti, and it is delicious.  Maybe Santa will bring me a new digi-camera so I can take lots more pictures of things I'll make...

The picture at the top is what I did with the first loaf -- the crust was overbrowned on the pan-loaf, so I sliced it and used it for toast.  Since Jared was off on a business trip I had fried-end-of-the-season-green-tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic, and olive oil toasted atop homemade potato bread with a glass of Rhubarb wine, and SHARED NONE OF IT.  Yum!

The recipe is posted here on Tanna's Blog.  Thank you for such a great challenge!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Goodby Old Blog!

I've been procrastinating about moving my blog from xanga ( for ages. To be honest, I was too lazy to get my butt in gear and make a new blog. I'd also been on xanga for over six years (since October 2001!) and was sort of attached to it. Recently my mom sent out a general email to the family asking about starting up a family blog, so I logged into Blogger yet again and started poking around. I suppose with some work I can make a better blogspace on here (especially seeing as I need a better place to post my baking challenge results than a cryspace for depressed thirteen-year-olds!).

We held a fondue party about a month ago, during which I spent a lot of time over the stove with pots of cheese. Thanks to Threadless and its awesome Communist Party t-shirt I was quite stylish and comfortable. Trev (my maid of honor at my wedding this past summer, hometown neighbor, ex roommate, and all around awesome friend) commented on how I was slaving away as the Communist Cheese Fairy. For my cooking exploits I suppose it's an apt enough name. ^_^