First Rising

First No-Knead loaf, sliced

First No-Knead loaf, sliced

Well, here I am. Writing of my trials and tribulations, my hopes and dreams, my failures and successes.

All about bread…Or at least baked creations of a bread-type nature. Who knows where the future will lead?

To give you an idea of just how “wet behind the ears” I am as a bread baker, my 4th loaf, evah (a Cooks Illustrated “Almost No-Knead” loaf with 3 oz. of an Oatmeal Stout beer for flavoring), is currently on the kitchen table, completing its first rise. Now, I’m soon to be 52 years old, and 3 of 4 loaves of bread have only come into existence by my hand within the past fortnight. The remaining loaf, the one that caused a 20-year exodus from all things yeast risen and home baked, was a sad creature from a fraudulently encouraging newspaper article that stipulated the use of a rolling pin during the kneading process. That poor abused loaf, the root of this blog’s name, came out of the oven an inedible, semi-flat, tough as stucco, lump that almost bent my bread knife as I tried to slice it. The personal sense of shame and embarassment at not even being able to craft a “simple” loaf of bread, which my local grocery store cranked out by the truckload on a daily basis, was enough to scare me off. Let THEM beat the hell out of stiff, sticky, dough, and make it so I can eat it. It wasn’t worth the time, effort, electricity, and resulting tears for the alien clod I ended up with…

Fast forward to early April, 2009. While searching on the web for cast iron muffin recipes to use with a vintage iron pan I had bought from E-Bay, I came across the NYT article about No-Knead Bread. Intrigued, I clicked on the link, and before I knew it, I was at the store buying flour and yeast…

My no-knead load came out okay. No giant holes, a bit heavy, and a bit bland with just the flour and salt, but it was STILL a “for realsie” loaf of bread that could be eaten without a chisel or dental damage…No kneading, and my rolling pin never even came into the kitchen from the closet where it has been banished for lo, these many years…

Now the damn has broken. If making bread can truly be THIS easy, and still be edible, I want to learn MORE. I want to learn to make rolls that crunch on the outside, but are melt-in-your-mouth fluffy on the inside, without the tons of butter that the french use for croissants and the like. I want to learn to make a fluffy cornbread that can be eaten, instead of used for ballast when consumed with chili. I want to make a loaf of bread like my Beloved Momma made when I was little, with a crisp, crunchy outside, and a fragrant, holey, inside that looks nothing like what passes for bread from the store…

Of course, good bread baking IS an art, and one that can take a lifetime to master. I don’t have the time or the patience for that. I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel any more than you have to in order to get it to fit your particular axle. So I am scouring the Web, picking up any tips and techniques I can, and trying to come to some sort of consensus of how to easily bake a good loaf of bread. Since mankind has been baking bread in one form or another since the Neolithic Period (the last period of the Stone Age), the techniques must be out there, I just have to re-discover them for myself, hopefully with a minimum of Trial and Error disasters.

We will see…


Published in: on April 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm  Comments (1)  

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