Can I Really Bake Bread..*gulp* by Myself?
|That's what I was thinking pretty much the whole 3 weeks I procrastinated on this challenge. Even though when Helene and Mary were here, they taught me how to do this.. it's not hard! It's just scary! And I really can't pinpoint why.|
So this was my very first bread baking on my own.. oh yeah.. this is November's Daring Baker challenge (if you were just dropped down on this planet and didn't realize it. hee!) and frankly, I don't think there could be a better written recipe for me to start off with. I had the jitters, yes. I consulted my guru, most assuredly. But.. I felt confident that I could do this. Mmm hmm.
So what was it like? The making of the bread was easy and quite rewarding. I really enjoyed getting my hands in there and kneading the dough (although my shoulders and upper arms weren't as happy) for what seemed like hours. hahahaa! No, it wasn't that bad.. but definitely a skill I need to condition myself for. Yanno, calisthenics, deep breathing exercises, weight training.. har! Okay so I haven't reached that zen place that true bread bakers achieve when they are elbow deep in dough, maybe one day? But, not only was it rewarding that I was making my very own bread.. but this dough also had another great purpose. It gave me 2 extra hands! Yes.. this dough is so sticky that when I needed to grab something, such as a wooden spoon, spatula or my bench scraper all I had to do was lightly waft one of my hands over the object - the sticky dough would suck it right up and hold on to it for me! I kinda felt like a magnet actually.. by the time it was all over, I had kitchen utensils, the recipe, my camera and my dog, Nigel, firmly attached to my appendages.
I decided, since I was so confident, that I'd make 3 different shapes or flavors with the very soft and sticky dough. Which, by the way, was made with bread flour and white whole wheat flour as your Queen of Dorkdum did not have any AP in the house (unbelievable!) and was not venturing out at the crack of dawn to a grocery store. (I KNOW! I broke the damn rules. I am totally going to get yelled at.) I wanted a boule - specifically one that looked like Gracie's. As if. Then I wanted a rustic, free-form shaped loaf flavored with Nicoise olives (Hubbs couldn't find Kalamata olives, which is what I really wanted) and Gruyere cheese. And finally, I wanted rolls for Thanksgiving dinner. Ohhh and by the way, I decided to bake bread for the very first time, by myself, on Thanksgiving morning. You know, when I didn't have to cook/bake all freakin' day long for my family's dinner. NOT. I mean seriously, am I a fakkin glutton for punishment or what?? Well, okay, it wasn't THAT bad.. Hubbs pitted and chopped the olives for me. ;)
Check out the brand new towels.. aren't they gorgeous? Almost as gorgeous as the gal who gave them to me. :D
Anyhoo.. as I've been saying.. everything went pretty much seamlessly.. UNTIL.. *shudder* until I put my boule and my olive/cheese loaf, on buttered baking sheets, into my smokin' hot 450º F. oven. And when I say, smokin' hot, I mean.. two SMOKING hot, butter burnin' baking sheets.. Oh yeah. And it was the black pillowy kind of smoke. You know, the kind that chokes and sets off the smoke alarm - as well as the built in ventilator on the microwave that's mounted above the oven.. which is louder than the fakkin smoke alarm? GOD. I could not see OR hear for a good half hour.
What does one do when her buttery baking sheets start to smoke? Well she opens the door, and remembers that her guru said there is a hot spot on the right side of the oven. So that is what must be causing the smoke! I'll just move the left baking sheet over to the right and move the right over to the left of the oven and that way I'll make it through the 10 minutes at super high heat without any more smoke! Brilliant!!
Yeah.. no, that didn't work. So now I'm opening my oven door for the third time, taking out the smoking and now black charred baking sheets and searching frantically for my pizza stone (hello? She had a stone this whole time??).. sliding the pizza stone in.. running to the pantry to look for cornmeal.. throwin' a handful of it on the pizza stone (oven door open this whole time) and then move my amazingly NOT burnt breads to the stone. Turn the fakkin oven down to 375º, open the door a FOURTH time, and spritz a lil water in there for good measure.
People! I should NOT be left alone in a kitchen with a 450º oven!!!!
So my nice round and puffy boule? Well she ended up being a disc. Yeah, well what did I expect, eh? The olive/cheese bread turned out beautifully though - although I put way too many olives in it, so it was quite salty.. which I didn't like, but the rest of my family loved it. I gotta tell ya though.. the Gruyere was AMAZING in this bread.. I will make a Gruyere only loaf as one of my loaves next time.
The rolls were next and they were baked in two buttered Pyrex baking dishes. They turned out beautifully in shape, height and color - with no smoking!
What'd I think about the final product? Well.. unfortunately, this wasn't the bread for me. I was really hoping for a chewier crust and I did not like how the crumb was so "tight", if that's a correct term? I prefer breads like Italian and French or even the No Knead bread, where there are nice open holes as opposed to a bread like commercially baked sandwich breads. Do you know what I mean?
I also know that the opening/closing of the oven door and the use of bread flour and white whole wheat flour played a major factor in my bread not turning out the way I had hoped. Not to mention, my family loved all 3 - I was the only one who was disappointed. So this weekend, in between running here and there, I stopped in to the local mega mart and stocked up on AP flour and more yeast - as well as Kalamata olives, roasted garlic and sun-dried tomatoes - this bread will be made again, this time with the correct flours and the knowledge learned that buttered, metal sheet pans aren't exactly the best way to go when baking something in a high temp oven. Sheesh.
Did I mention that this month's hostess is a gal who I hold close to my heart? Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups decided on this recipe and she did a most excellent job helping everyone out throughout the month. Thank you SO MUCH Tanna! You were a fabulous hostess and I for one, was more than happy when I saw you had chosen bread.. I was hoping someone would soon and I got my wish. =) xoxo
Well all I can say now is.. there's plenty of reading and drooling available regarding this recipe - check out the ever growing Daring Baker Official Blogroll and enjoy the trip!
PS - I almost forgot to mention!!! I was TRAUMATICALLY WOUNDED that day! I can not say for sure this horrible event happened while making my bread or while making the various yummies for Turkey Day dinner.. as I did not even realize it happened until the flap of skin (ewww.. sorry) caught on a dish towel. Here is my photographic proof that maybe I'm not the best person to cook with on a day when I've got numerous items in the oven, the mixer, the cutting board, the fridge, etc. Say a prayer that my thumb will live through this. Please.
The silhouette of my wounded thumb in front of my monitor as I was talking with Helene and Marce on Yahoo.. we may or may not have been discussing a very disgusting (ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww) topic at the time.
No. I will not tell you what it was. :P