musing: the blue lemon

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I was going to have a lovely little cook fest tomorrow for the wee ones and I – then life happened. It could have been worse – no one was in my car and the two folks in the car that hit mine weren’t injured.

Still, a pain in the neck (figuratively speaking!). I’ll be up to my eyeballs in Car Insurance Purgatory for awhile. I’ll have to find something delicious with which to celebrate, if The Blue Lemon gets totaled and Mama gets a new car (payment). Maybe a non-seasonal strawberry tart, courtesy Bruno Albouze. Or Deb Perelman’s cherry-cornmeal cake. Decisions, decisions.

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after action report: Chad loaf

I tried, I swear I tried. Same Tartine percentages compared to the flour in the recipe (20% leaven, 2% salt, 75% water). Docked it in the fridge for 11 hours; the dough came out cold but developed. I pre-shaped, bench rested then performed a final shaping and let it bench proof for 2 1/2 hours before baking. Post-bake weight was 90%…another fucking paver.

So, I’m upping my leaven to 33% and leaving it on the countertop overnight.

after action report: the one

Well, perhaps not The One, but The One That Isn’t Wet. When I pull a Chad Loaf from the oven, I know before cutting into the loaf how gelatinized shiny-crumbed wet the loaf will be from holding it in my hands (with oven mitts on, natch). This time, I popped the loaf out of the pan (I had no time to give it a proper chill, so I panned it) and I KNEW.

To confirm, I added up my ingredient weights, subtracted 2% for estimated pre-panning dough loss, then used the result as the divisor for my final loaf weight. 288g / ( 363g – 7g ) = 80% of pre-bake weight. 68g of weight lost, which was entirely water and translates to 43% of the total water in the dough lost as steam. A very good bake, indeed, considering I am rarely able to bake 10% of the dough weight out of a Chad Loaf.

So, it’s not the high-hydration dough. It’s not my leaven. It’s not the fermentation conditions. It’s not the bake conditions (I’ve done the same bake time/temp with Chad Loaves). It’s gotta be the bulk fermentation time – I could probably put together a Chad Loaf tonight, dock it in the fridge for 12 hours (without turns), then take it out tomorrow morning, knead it slightly, shape it and bake it.

country bread, nerd style: alton revisited

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Having shat upon Chad Robertson’s wet Country Loaf elsewhere in the blog, I began to feel as though I should add balance to this scatological equation. I am no stranger to high-hydration doughs, nor to no-knead doughs. Before reading Tartine Bread, my preferred bread recipe was simply to take Chad-esque ratios of ingredients (with active dry yeast rather than a natural starter); mix them together in a large bowl; let the dough rest, covered, for 12-18 hours on the countertop; then shape and bake the boule. See me go home to my cooking roots and thumb my nose at artisan bread after the jump.

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le pain perdu and braided brioche

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Diva Oven won Round 1 yesterday: 25 minutes of shielded baking at 450 was perfect; 15 minutes unshielded baking at 450 was…not. The brioche came out slightly burnt deeply caramelized. It mattered little: that loaf is now resting within the tummies of my children, in the form of toast, le pain perdu and plain slices off the loaf. This morning, I won Round 2, this time trying the braid I spoke of previously. Given that the braid was longer than my loaf pan, I baked it (shielded) on a pizza pan for 20 minutes at 450, then unshielded at 350 for 10 minutes. Musings and a foolproof custard for French toast after the jump.
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chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Check-in Weight: 145.2

I like cookies like I like cake…and most cookies outside of a professional bakery are crap that isn’t worth eating. If you take a bite of a good, homemade cookie from scratch, then a bite of a store-bought cookie immediately after, you would realize how profoundly shitty most store-bought cookies are. So, do yourself, your body and your family a favor – don’t settle for crap. Made a good cookie at home. The Recipe and Baking Notes after the jump.
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