Patty Cake, Patty Cake…
This weekend, I finally decided to start baking bread. I’ve made candies and cakes, but I’ve never made bread from scratch.
I have a wonderful book by French baker Richard Bertinet titled “Dough.” He’s into a very simple, yet elegant style. The book comes with a dvd, which I watched more than half a dozen times, trying to understand his style.
So, I woke up early Saturday morning and attempted to make the dough…
Let me just say, that I know Mr. Bertinet has many years experience on me, but as I tried to imitate his form, I realized I was failing miserably. Bertinet kept saying, “the bread is alive! It has life!” and mine looked… well, it didn’t look very alive. In fact, it didn’t look like much of anything. It just sort of laid there. Like a lump. Granted, it did sort of look bread-like, but it most certainly didn’t look alive.
I then let the bread rest for an hour and it was supposed to double in size…
It was still just lying there. Lazy bread, is there anything more annoying?*
I decided to continue. Why? I’m an idiot, did you need a reason?**
Back to our story… I “worked” the dough and let it rest another hour, with similar results, and I baked it anyhow. At this point, I decided God hated me and wanted me to fail, and who am I to doubt God?***
I put it in the oven and 10 – 12 minutes later the most heinous pieces of crap came out of the oven. So, the only logical thing to do was to put it back in a little longer. After five more minutes, it still looked bad—smelled good, thought—but no longer heinous! Another ten minutes and it was almost passable as food!
I stared at the hot, hard mess I’d pulled out of my oven and thought, “Damnit, I may just have to read the directions.” (Kidding… Jeez, do you really think I’m so stupid that I’d not read the directions?****)
I made a second batch a few hours later… the kitchen was warmer and I think that helped. My God, on the first rise... THE DOUGH WAS ALIVE! It was pliable and sexy and fucking alive!
I can’t tell you the feeling of having the bread rise as it did. It really was exhilarating. It truly was alive and the smell was wonderful. Four simple ingredients could become a living, breathing thing just amazes me. While I understand the science of it, I am amazed none-the-less.
The smell and the feel of the dough is intoxicating. Pressing it in my fingers with the scent rising up was a luscious sensation which I cannot do justice. I suggest you try it, you will not forget it. I am so glad I worked through the “failure” of my first batch to this second batch. The disappointment was so worth it to get to the final result.
I ended up making two loaves, one as a traditional baguette, the other as a fancy Epis (which looks like a wheatsheaf). A picture of my Epis is at the top. It’s lovely isn’t it? ¥*
My name is Chris… and I want to be a baker.
*I can think of 387 without giving it much thought, so the answer is “Yes. Yes there is.” Move ahead three spaces if you got it right, if you got it wrong, just stop reading right now.
**No you don’t. But while I’ve got your attention, do you really need to keep looking down here? Just keep reading, the asterisks are really pointless. Seriously, you should just ignore them. Seriously. Yet, you’re still reading this. You are still reading this, aren’t you? Aren’t you?! Good Lord, get back to the story… For the love of God, get back to the story!
***Don’t make me kick your ass.
****Don’t answer that. And, seriously, you’ve got to get some discipline and stay up there.
¥* Oh for the love of… just stop, okay? Stop. No means no, you bastard. Just leave the poor little red letters to live their lives in peace.
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