Sunday, November 12, 2006
Bread for dummies? Bread around the world
This post -and the bread that is star of the show- is a result of the powers of the Internet. Yesterday night I had the most fun baking and mail exchanging at the same time, and as Angelika mentioned in her comment at My Kitchen in Half Cups the pc is demanding a place among modern days kitchen gadgets. (I really do need a laptop folks!).
It all started late Friday night with reading Lindy's post over at Toast in which she mentioned an article in the NY Times (There is a video to watch too). Finished reading and prior to jump into the kitchen to start this bread, I switched to Bakkerswereld forum and there a new post was up with the header: bread for dummies. Featuring? The exact same recipe for this bread. The next thing I knew there was mail waiting for me in which Tanna asked to read this post at Lindy's and included a link to the article ánd a copy from the original recipe..... All this in a matter of what? 15 minutes? How could I resist?
Composed a quick mail to Tanna and Sue to do a "round the world real time baking game" and blog about it. Turns out we started the dough 5 minutes apart from each other! Yesterdaynight we had an exchange of fun emails in which weiners, gourmet and grilled salmon played a part (I recall there was some name calling involved but I'm not so clear on that....hehe) but the leading role was the bread in it's continuing form.
Observant readers can guess the timezone in which this took place (a 7hrs difference) had me in the kitchen at midnight watching my empty Romertopf getting heated in the oven. Observant Dutch readers know what this is about: my in-ability to count, or rather count back, from a recipe which repeatedly has midnight kitchen sessions as a result..... (and more or less desperate cries for help to fellow bakers: when do I start this biga?) Yes you may giggle, she's done it again!
I digress.... But before I get back to business on hand, did I tell you about the polar circumstances this bread -and me- had to work? We did an instant out of the blue gourmet evening yesterday and to get rid of the eeeh.. let's say odour, all available windows ánd the backdoor were open wide, and boy, it was cold in here!
Anyways...a few observations: the dough itself was quite wet (as was said in the article) I used 3 cups of breadflour and slightly more than 1.1/2 cups of water and I think using dutch breadflour you'll need to hold back on the water more (or add a little flour). Look at Tanna's results and compare our doughs. In the first twelve hours (dough mixed at 10.00 pm) first picture at 10.00 am, alive and bubbly, smells definitely yeasty and fresh.
Just before dumping (literally dumping) the mass on my floured workspace, the bubbles are larger and the smell is very nice. And then...
using my scraper I incorporated lots of flour (and here is maybe where I went wrong in handling the dough too much from fear of having an unmanageable mass) fold it unto itself and let it rest covered with plastic foil.
It didn't rise....
Trying to get a ball-like form, handled it a bit more still using the scraper and put it to rise, covered with a teatowel.
It didn't rise...
Instead it spread out a bit on the underlying teatowel and -quelle horreur!- developed a crust! meaning the top is drying out, prohibiting the dough to rise on the surface so it had to go sideways and that's what it did!
Finally I tipped it over in the heated Romertopf (close to midnight!) and instantly it stuck to the sides (visions of having to use non-kitchen utensils to pry it out in baked state came to mind, yes I do have experience and yes fellow bakers at Bakkerswereld again you may laugh out loud). You may assume I was praying for a lot of ovenspring!
When you take the time to watch the video at NY Times site, you'll notice that the texture of the initial dough is far more firm than mine was. And what I saw is that this baker uses 1.1/2 cups of water and not 1.5/8 and scoops his flour, and I think there are heaped cups of flour there....
I removed the lid a bit early because I was very anxious to know what it was doing in it's sheltered dome and to my surprise it didn't look too bad!
Not bad at all (mind, this must be a very forgiving dough!). This morning I came into the kitchen to find my bread half sliced...and gobbled up and the rest of the family happily munching away.. Have to confess here that I slept somewhat longer this morning....
So...does this thing work? Yes it does! Will I try it again? Yes I will. Is it good enough for you to try? Yes it sure is. It's easy, it's forgiving, it sings when it comes out of the oven and even with my mistreating it looks good. Take a look at the pictures from Tanna and Lindy and Life begins at sixty-five and in Dutch with already some pictures Bakkerswereld, I bet there are more of you out there.. You'll know what it looks like in kitchens around the world.
May I invite any Dutch bakers to contact me and maybe send some pictures of your finished loaf so I can do a round-up here and show the results (and credit you of course)? You can reach me at bakemyday at gmail dot com. I just sampled my first slice and it tastes great, albeit that the crust was a little too thick to my taste and the holes could be bigger. Again I think this is due to my mistreating the dough, next time I will make sure the dough is firmer to start with.
Update: You could watch the NYT video (which I did áfter I made the bread) in which the instant famous baker tells the ever enthousiastic journalist to use 3 cups of flour (while scooping enormous cups, not leveled) and to use 1.1/2 cups of water (and we see him pouring a scant cup in.. so to be on the safe side: less water, more flour (ratio: 1.1/2 cup to approx 450 grams I think)