Monday, December 14, 2009
White mountain bread
My bread making project has suffered a few interruptions the last couple of weeks, but Saturday, I climbed back in the saddle to tackle White Mountain Bread.
This is not your mother's Wonderbread -- not by a long shot. I will cut to the chase, and tell you it's dense, crusty and delicious. And almost gone. We've blown through one loaf in less than 36 hours.
As I assembled my ingredients, I swore to myself I would not be lulled into complacency by the success of my first bread-making attempt. I painstakingly measured out my yeast and heated my water just so. Then the recipe threw me a loop -- calling for a "pinch" of sugar to round out the proofing.
Define "pinch." What if my "pinch" was too much -- or too little? What happened to a good, old-fashioned quantitative measurement?
Basically, there was only one way to find out. I reach into the sugar bowl and let 'er rip. And proofed away.
The rest of the recipe progressed without incident -- unless you count the fact that I had used about 5-5 1/2 cups of flour to reach dough perfection when the recipe called for 6-6 1/2 cups. The dough does not lie, I decide. Commence kneading.
Then came time for the first raising -- and things took a potentially disastrous turn. My laundry room -- the Eden of bread raising -- had been taken over by Larry the Electrician.
Larry was on site to re-wire our garage to accommodate a new garage door and small refrigerator. He had taken over the laundry room because along with our washer, dryer and furnace, it also is home to our electrical box. At the moment, he was drilling up through the laundry room ceiling on his way to the garage. There was a lot of drilling, running up and down the stairs, and more drilling. The laundry room was cool and drafty -- plus, the washer and dryer were unplugged to accommodate Larry's power tools.
On to Plan B -- I warmed up the oven, covered the dough, crossed my fingers and closed the oven door. It worked, not as well as my warm, toasty laundry room, but it worked. Two-and-a-half hours later, I had a lovely wad of dough, double in size, ready to be shaped into loaves.
The loaves took another turn at raising -- and finally, the last stop, a 350 degree oven.
But not before I partially collapse the loaves. AGAIN. Note to self: REALLY must work on this part of my game.
Nevertheless, 45 minutes later, I pull out two lovely loaves of White Mountain Bread -- that faintly resemble butterflies. But, hey, I'm not proud.