So, what’s left over from my first foray into baking bread? A few more rookie tips, some crust to deal with, and a discussion of mindshare, or breadshare in this case.
First of all I finally solved the “get the dough in the center of the cloche” problem that I mentioned in my one post that discussed actual baking. That was fixed due to the interposition of what is called parchment paper on the top of the proofing basket before flipping the dough over into the hot cloche. That way, wherever you drop the thing (on the cloche, we hope), you can always center it by tugging this way or that on the parchment paper.
For my first two loaves I was sprinkling what I thought was wheat bran onto the oiled proofing basket in order to get some kind of grain effect on the finished loaf, but my wife informed me that what I had pulled out of the fridge was actually flax seed. So, considering the reputed effects of flax on digestive processes, no one in our little family unit should need prunes for a week.
She then pointed out the actual wheat bran and the corn meal in the cupboard, and the latter is what I used for what turned out to be my blue-eyed blonde loaf. My next loaf used sesame seeds, and I also want to experiment with a floured version. These things come out looking so authentic, it’s miraculous: you are all of a sudden an artisan bread baker.
One cool thing I should mention is that I’m having a lot of fun using my iPhone to time all this baking. As they say in the Apple iPhone promos, there’s an app for that. Which is so true in this arena, considering that I can easily get on the computer and be absorbed in a consideration of what may be the next big web thing, and forget to take out the bread. Fortunately even the basic (included) iPhone application “Clock” has a timer that lets you set multiple alarms and even give them names such as “oven preheat to 450” “bread in oven,” “lid off, reduce heat,” and “bread cools.”
Then while you are typing away on Twitter and its time do so something with the bread, your iPhone vibrates and then jangles (I left the alert sound on “old car horn”) , and you just go do the right thing. Plus, since the alerts don’t erase after one use, you can just reschedule the prelabeled items for the next batch. Love it.
So what’s left after all this? For one thing, especially for those first two loaves, which were pretty crispy on the outside, we didn’t eat them quick enough for my 5 year old to be able to soldier through the crust a few days later. We had to cut the crusts off for him at that point.
I spoke to Eric (“The Bread”) about storage. My questions: What about bread bags? What about getting a bread box? What about my wife’s opinion that you simply cut the bread and stand it up edgewise on the cut surface?
All good, said Eric, followed by what most of you who have seen his breadmaking videos will recognize as Eric’s typical no nonsense advice: “Basically you just eat it up as fast as you can.”
That’s our Eric.
As far as leftovers goes, since I am the fourth child in a large family where food wasn’t always in abundance, especially for the smaller grabbers, I hate to see food go to waste. My mom was the kind of frugal person that would eat the whole apple rather than waste the possibly nutritious parts of the core, seeds be d#$@$%d. So I cut up the leftover crust that my little one couldn’t eat, soaked it in some hot milk spiked with sugar and cinnamon and called it “yummy.”
The other leftover of all of this baking is mindshare, in that once you start baking, you start to think of what else you could bake. Like, maybe I should make Kendra’s raisin bread, and of course I’m thinking of getting started with sourdough no knead (got the starter and the lovely blue-topped jar) plus there are all of these variations on the no knead theme. I’ve even already acquired the spelt and the rye flour to go after what looks like the graduate level bread: the traditional European whole grain sourdough.
Maybe women can balance multiple topics in their head at one time, but guys are simpler. They can only process so many things at once. Now that I’m thinking of baking, I don’t have so much mindshare for my usual stuff, e.g. – which Netflix DVD I should get next.
Which may actually be good, in some ways, since bread is a lot better toasted.