baking bread for the
romance, the smell, the texture,
that crunch of the crust
On a rainy weekend in the low country what do you think about besides thinking about what can some one do on a rainy weekend in the low country.
Sure we could go shopping.
Shopping in a resort town where prices reflect an income that doesn’t reflect mine.
There is always the library and that gets penciled in for later in the afternoon and more on that visit later this week.
My thoughts turned to baking bread.
Years ago I thought that a fine epitaph for my gravestone, back when I imagined having gravestone, would be, “He Baked Good Bread.”
And I went to work to learn.
I tried many recipes from Julia Child to a favorite Aunt.
I read a lot of books.
I watched a lot of video.
The best book on the subject for reading is Outlaw Cook, by John Thorne who chronicles his efforts to bake bread.
The type of bread someone would bake when bread made up 90% of some ones diet.
John Thorne is a great cooking writer.
He won me over when he wrote about how he published a newsletter with a photo of his kitchen.
So many of his subscribers (this was way before the world wide web and blogs and posts and such) responded in disbelief as it was a photo of a typical apartment kitchen with little counter space and tiny stove, that Mr. Thorne was moved to respond with the timeless phrase, “It is the cook … not the kitchen.”
(I think of that line a lot when I watch these magic chefs with their mega ‘kitchens’ on TV. Mise en place? Somehow I always thought it meant Mess In Place and stood for … you clean up your own mess )
It is a great cook book to read.
But it will break your heart to try and repeat.
He ends up with a wood fired concrete oven in the backyard.
I can say that I have arrived at a recipe that is my ‘go to’ recipe for baking bread.
It is the best.
It is simple.
It is simply, the best recipe for baking bread at home.
I can say that as it is my blog – my rules.
Sorry to say you do need two special pieces of equipment.
One is a cast iron loaf pan, but a small cast iron frying pan also works.
Why cast iron?
The only reason I got is that it works for me and that works for me.
The other piece of equipment is one of those stand mixers or mix-masters.
An expensive piece of kitchen equipment and I have to admit I inherited mine from my sister-in-law, Carla.
So take your mix-master if you got one and use your dough hook attachment.
In the mixing bowl dump 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, a package of yeast, 3 and 1/2 cups of flour and 1 and 1/2 cups of warm water.
Just dump it all in there.
All at once.
Then run that mix master with the dough hook for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, take the bowl off and cover with a cloth for 1 hour so the dough can rise.
At some point, pre heat your over to 425.
After the dough has sat for an hour, get some flour on your counter and scrap the dough out onto the flour and knead into a ball.
Drop the dough into the cast iron pan and shove the pan into the hot 425 oven until brown (about 25 to 30 minutes).
Take the pan out and (if you got a nicely seasoned cast iron pan) dump the bread out onto a cooling rack and you are done.
I let the bread sit for a few minutes then cut off some thick slices.
I ate the heal part of the loaf, covered with butter, right away as I love the crust.
Then I made up two plates with a warm slice of bread with cheese and some fruit for me and the Mrs. to have for lunch.
This morning I cut another thick slice and put it in toaster.
The surface of my slice bread was rough, not smooth like a bakery loaf.
The tips of little fragments of bread started to brown first.
Almost like watching a sun rise and the golden toasted colors spread across the surface of the bread.
On the plate, the butter melted into the bread.
The kitchen smelled of warm bread and coffee.
Rough and crunchy.
Soft and chewy from the butter.
Simple touches to start a rainy weekend in the low country.
The romance of home baked bread.
But in the back of my mind, is a warning.
A voice reminding me, that a lot of romance was the luxury of choosing to bake some bread.
A voice reminding me, that a lot of romance was the luxury having the option to bake some bread.
I might not like it so much … if I had to do it.