Thursday, February 4, 2010

22 Years of Wonderbread got me where?

Yes, yes, about time. I have been wordy and long winded thus far. Let's get to the meaty stuff. I have been obsessed with bread since my time in France. Always loved it but barely glimpsed the real scope of how far a shadow it cast. Not all bread comes in a rectangle, perfectly sliced, with a brown sponge wrapper call a crust by some.
Some breads bite back. In fact some breads refuse to let you in at all without a fight. I have tried to recreate sourdoughs, baguette, bagels, you name it. I have tried the entire "idiom" of bread. Blast you Chris for using such a killer SAT word before me. I digress.
I have had horrible luck.
Flour, sugar, salt, yeast, water. How on earth could it be so complicated? is. I started messing with bread in 2002. I never worked in a bake shop. I finally started to understand bread last year. I love bread. I love making it. I love that I kind of understand it a little bit. I want anyone interested to make a loaf that warrants the reaction I got out of Brennan the night of my wife's b-day party. I was explaining a course or something and he literally told me to shut up, eyes wide like the mad hattter, and told everyone that they had to smell the loaf he had just cut into.

So here we go:
1 T dry yeast
2 t sugar
1 t kosher salt
3 C AP flour

Forget what you have read about bread AKA if you have a bread machine from Walmart, put in attic, furnace, don't care just don't let what you are about to make see the enemy. Start with 1 1/2 C cold water in a mixer, Kitchen Aid, or bowl. Add the yeast and sugar. Mix. Add a cup of flour and salt. Add rest of flour. Mix till it forms a pliable lob of dough. Like soft play-do. With plastic wrap, cover the actual dough lightly, then cover the whole bowl with plastic wrap. Put somewhere relatively warm; on top of oven overnight, on top of fridge, you get it, anywhere warm.
You are doing two things. Yeast and sugar are friends. Yeast and starch in flour are friends. They all hang out. Yeast does not like salt. They dated the same guy way back when, met up at a frat party one time, there was a slap till you drop fight, you get the picture. Yeast and sugar start their own party. The air we breath has it's own fraternity of yeast. You get flour, yeast, sugar, and the natural fraternal brotherhood of yeast and it's a rager. All this nonsense means that overnight, your starter as we will call it will grow. It will breath, literally. The yeast and sugar create oxygen which makes the dough bubble, natural yeasts in the air will slowly start to work themselves in creating FLAVOR and more bubbly.
Next day, feed the monster. This is a living thing. Not in a bad way. In a beautiful way. Bread, beer, cheese, wine,..these things are alive. Be ok with it. America is a petrie dish. Annoyingly so. Take 1 C warm water, 1 C AP flour. Uncover the beast. Peel the second layer of plastic off and mix in the water and flour. When it's all good and mixed, cover back up....just one layer over the top of the bowl this time and put it back to sleep.
Let it be. It's wants to be left alone. Tomorrow night we'll work on flavor...
Pictures....yes, yes...That's Becca taking a wiff and the other is me, Brennan chugging a beer and the bread station directly below his lushy elbow....altumura loaf already shown, rosemary thyme loaf, and kalamata loaf to be sampled w/ goat milk butter, parmigiano reggiano butter, and EVO w/ various sea salts.

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