I remember my first, humble offering of a homemade dish, to my then-fiancé. Almost ten years ago. It was a pasta dish, store-bought penne, with a homemade sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella. I was so proud of myself for making the effort. I thought it was perfection: pasta cooked al dente, swimming in a garlicky, tomatoey brew, islands of caramelized cheese on top. Finally, I mused. Finally, I have proven myself worthy of my own kitchen. Its gleaming appliances will not mock me now!
“Needs more cheese,” he said.
I’m still getting into the swing of bread baking with the combo cooker; the loaves have been too wet after baking for my taste, so the adjustments continue. In the meantime, I’ve been amusing myself with croissants (commercial-yeast leavened, fantastic nevertheless). That story and those photos are yet to come. Tonight, though, we depart from baking to bask in the scientific glory of cold-oil frying. Tonight, we come to the time in every woman’s life, when she must break out her attachments.
I knew in the back of my mind that I was missing something.
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve baked, but this is country bread, not oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. (I have a favorite recipe; I will share, don’t worry.) I may not keep chocolate chips in my pantry, but it seems inconceivable that I’d be missing flour or salt. Right?
The leaven was made at 6:45p Saturday night – 200g rye, 200g water, 1T starter. Projected bake timeline (now with adjusted times) is as follows:
Projected (Adjusted) Time
Initial shape and bench rest
Final shape and bench proof
Preheat oven (and combo cooker) to 475 degrees
Baking – lid on
Baking – lid off
The classic Tartine country loaf recipe makes two loaves. I’m just test baking tomorrow, so I’ll divide the basic recipe in half (given at the end). I will depart from the Tartine method at a few points, and this is one of them: the salt is typically incorporated with about 8% of the water 30-40 minutes after the initial mix. I don’t find that this adds anything to the final product, but I will acknowledge that salt is not the favorite snack of yeast, commercial or wild. The salt (and all of the water) will go in during the initial mix.
Bessie durn jumped her fence in the wee hours of the morn. I gave her a seven o’clock feeding last night…and aaaalmost reduced the starter by a few tablespoons, so it wouldn’t crawl out of the container before the next feeding. Hindsight is 20/20, etc. – I didn’t, it did. Çest la vie. I wrassled two teaspoons of ol’ Bess into a new mason jar (the first jar had a lovely armor coating that took awhile to scrub off), then gave her the first exact feeding since I brought her into being: 40g rye, 50g water.
Yes, it’s alive, it’s a she and her name is Bessie. Let’s talk about making some bread with her.
I’m going to see Young Frankenstein with a buddy at the Carpenter Center next Saturday. Loved the film, eager to see the play. In honor of Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, the cast of YF and for fans of Mary Shelley, I can proudly announce
IT IS ALIVE!