Monday, April 04, 2011

Bread Will Be Bread ...


The beauty of bread is that it's damn near impossible to screw it up.

People are daunted by the notion of baking bread, but honestly, I don't know why.

I learned how to bake bread when I was 8. Perhaps that's why it seems easy to me. Kids don't know enough to think about all the things that can go wrong in a given situation. They just plow ahead with whatever interests them at the time. I love that about kids. I need to remember that about myself, that there was a time when I just did for the sake of doing.

And such it is with bread. Dough feel a bit too dry? Add a bit more liquid. Dough feel a bit too wet? Add a bit more flour. So long as you don't kill your yeast, odds are you're going to end up with something edible.

Last night, I felt like baking again, so into the kitchen I went to make my usual loaves. But then English Teacher Dave called and it's tricky to knead while holding a phone, and I wasn't inclined to dig my headset out of its drawer and the hour was getting late, besides. I didn't want to stay up long enough to finish the bread, let it rise, bake it, and let it cool enough to slice it before putting it in the freezer.

So I cradled the phone in my shoulder long enough to give the dough a few turns, I plopped it in a bowl in which I had poured a bit of olive oil, covered it, and put it in the fridge to rise overnight.

I settled into my comfy chair to finish my chat with Dave, and later, I headed to bed.

This morning, I pulled the bowl of dough out of the fridge, oiled a pan, pushed the dough into place, letting it rest a bit both to warm up and to relax so I could push it into the corners. I crushed some garlic and mixed it with olive oil and brushed that on the dough. And then I rubbed some dried thyme between my palms and sprinkled that about. And some coarse sea salt. And a few passes with the pepper mill. And I popped the pan into a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes and figured either it would turn out or it wouldn't.

I'm happy to report that it did. I should have oiled the pan a bit more. The loaf was a little fussy about releasing, but I slid my spatula around the perimeter and it acquiesced.

And I let it cool a bit and cut it into squares and handed one to mom, who had stopped by, and took one for myself, and we noshed and declared this particular experiment a success.

So it's kind of focaccia, but without olive oil in the dough because I didn't set out to make focaccia, per se. I just baked it in that style. But it's right tasty, a bit too heavy on the sea salt this time, but it will toast up nicely or make a nice sandwich or be happy to be eaten plain.

And my house smells amazing.

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