Monday, December 25, 2006

baking porn

So what did I do for Christmas this year?

Spent 18 hours making bread!


I read that New York Times article from Mark Bittman about the no-knead 18 hour bread when it first came out, and got all worked up about it (is this for real? is it good? is it as good as kneaded bread?), and then forgot about it until Chef Yum Yum made it and told me all about her fantastic results... I believe she said, "best. bread. ever." or something along those lines. Needless to say, my interest was renewed...

Of course, the original Times article has gone into their "you've gotta pay for it now" archive, so I couldn't find the original, but a quick google search revealed that no less than 88,000 food bloggers had made this bread, posted photos, discussed the pros and cons of the recipe (um, mostly pros...), and on a few sites I found the basic recipe. I printed up this one for my use in the kitchen, but I saw basically the same thing on a few other sites.


I mixed up that dough, set it aside in the laundry room to rise (it's warm in there, and not drafty like the rest of the house...) and waited. About 20 hours later (18 hours first rise, then you move it around a bit and let it sit for another 2 hours) it was ready to go in the oven! Now, had I been at my place in Chicago I would have baked this in my le creuset pot. (I want to marry that pot.) But, in the land of Hillsboro, Oregon there is only fancy non-stick cookware. I used the largest of my mom's calphalon pots, which are supposedly good in the oven up to 450 degrees. I may or may not have destroyed the pot... It was smoking quite a bit and the bread cooked faster than I expected. When I make this again I'll definitely use the le creuset, not calphalon.

The results were delicious!!!! I love the method of cooking in the pot - BRILLIANT. The inside of the bread is moist and bubbly and the crust is ... crusty!



So here's where I get critical. (This part always comes, huh.) When I use this method again I think I'll add a little something to the dough. As written, it doesn't have the most interesting flavor. I think the recipe is really more the structure of a method rather than a finished product in and of itself. Like a skeleton... At the very least, this bread needs some oil. With its bubbly consistency I think a little olive oil would really help this stuff out. Maybe I'll add some cloves of garlic as well? Sometimes my mom gets this bread from a local bakery that is crusty and olive oil-y and is chock full of whole cloves of garlic. I love eating pretty much anything with whole cloves of garlic in it. Also, maybe a little sweetener. That yeast needs something to snack on while it's rising for 18 hours, for Christ's sake.

Finally, having made kneaded bread about 10,000 times before, I don't think this no-knead method really replaces the old-school one. In practical terms, yes, I am a whole hell of a lot more likely to make bread that requires about 15 minutes of effort on my part. But there is really something to be said for the incredibly developed flavor you get from dough that has been worked and developed through kneading. Although it does rise nicely, it just doesn't get that elastic-y quality from sitting for 18 hours. Maybe I'm being nitpicky (and I'm not being delusional - I'm absolutely sure of this), but this bread just doesn't have that "developed" taste to it. But yeah, I will probably set aside some flour and yeast on a Friday evening so I can have some fresh bread for my dinner on Saturday night and the bread will be fantastic.

4 comments:

Derrida Does Dallas said...

I was completely let down by the lack of pornography on this post. Clearly my google search led me astray.

ER said...

I love your (4-year old) halloween costume. It's AWESOME!!! I wanted to be a T-Rex, too.

LEO said...

Steve, the number of hits I've gotten from people searching "porn" on blogger is amazing. I suppose it's stupid of me not to have realized that sooner. But really, just searching "porn" on blogger is pretty damn stupid.

Er, I was all about T Rex at age 4. I guess I still am... I love his little arms!

Peter said...

Really? I found this by searching "porn" and was really turned on.

Anybody want to try my bread?? I baked it myself!