Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the great bread experiment

every tuesday morning i look forward to reading the oregonian's food day section (which is about the only section of that paper worth reading.) this week's cover story was about some crazy no-knead bread. i was dubious. i know there are people who hate kneading bread dough and that's why they cheat & use a bread machine; but not me, i find kneading dough to be satisfying... i guess i like to earn my delicious bread.

so, no kneading? at all? indeed. but patience is the trade-off. the dough needs an initial rise of 12-18 hours (18 was listed as preferable) and man, that's a long time to wait for delicious home-made bread. but i thought i'd give it a shot.

i mixed it up yesterday evening and then over my lunch hour today inspected the goo sitting in the bowl. it didn't look that good. it was bubbly, yes, so i knew the little yeast guys were doing something, but it sure didn't look like bread dough. it looked more like waffle batter. i had grave doubts about being able to form it into ball for its next rise -- it looked like it would just flatten out & run off the counter. and it was sticky as hell. the second rising, which takes place on a cotton towel covered with flour, didn't double up in size and the dough was still really wet. to make matters worse, it seemed as if half of the dough remained glued to the towel despite the liberal flouring. i was sensing failure. but i had been dutifully preheating the oven along with a cast iron pot, so what the heck -- i dumped the messy goo into the pot, covered it with a lid, & shoved it into the oven. after 30 minutes i peeked. it had risen & it looked like bread, but how would it taste? i kept the lid off and baked it another 15 minutes. after removing it from the oven and dumping it onto a wire rack, there was not another drop of patience within me to wait for it to cool. the bread was hot & clearly was still baking because it continued to pop & crack for the next few minutes. but i didn't care, i grasped a knife and began to slice... the exterior was nice & crusty (good sign) and finishing that first cut revealed a soft & luscious interior. i was shocked, it looked perfect. could this have actually turned out? but there remained the taste test... holy crap, it was good! no, it was great!

i wouldn't call it a 100% success -- i'd have to try it out a few more times to see if the dough is always so wet & gooey, that just doesn't seem right to me. oh, and i'd probably want to explore putting things in it like cheddar & cracked pepper. maybe when i know i'll have enough distractions for 18 hours at a time, i'll try it again!

(so, ok, gricklepants and i had troubles getting this whole blog thing transitioned over to the new-fangled google sign-in process; that's why dear old bloggy has been neglected.)

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Blogger Susie Cupcakes said...

MMM...looks good. I love it when seeming kitchen failures turn out to be smashing successes!

4:41 AM  
Blogger Dr. Hectic said...

Soon we will attempt the ridiculous-time bread, as it has today appeared in the Hartford Courant.

5:41 PM  

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