Friday, September 4, 2009
Rushed but Blessed Bread
I make bread. I have for 10 years now, maybe more. Every week, sometimes more than once a week, I feed a starter or levain by mixing in warm water and flour. The mixture bubbles and grows, sometimes to the top of the container and over onto the counter (if I have rushed and not dumped it into a bigger bowl even though I know it needs the space). If you are seeking a fake concrete, flour and water dried to an almost impossible hardness is your answer.
After feeding the starter twice, I separate a cup or so back into a Tupperware that then hunches down in the back of the refrigerator until I remember to feed it again. The remainder starter I use for bread, rolls, pizza dough, even on occasion waffles or cake.
Two days ago, I began this ritual again with one difference: my long-awaited, can't-even-believe-it-even-thought-it-is-sitting-on-my-counter Cuisinart food processor is here waiting to be used for the first time.
Now, given my past professional life and bibliophile nature, I really should be expected to read the operating manual prior to using the processor. I had glanced through it, but was more interested in the recipe section than the details on order of assembly, locking mechanisms and such. You can see where this is going, can't you?
I was rushed (ha! like that is a surprise), trying to help the girls with homework before the babysitter came, needed to take a shower and dress for the dinner. Yet, I really wanted to use my starter and get some bread dough made AND I really really wanted to use my new gleaming super-clean-never-will-be-that-clean again processor. I'll save you the floury details and simply state that I did every single step wrong the first time and had to redo. All this in a rush. My husband's comment later: "You were in a rush and you tried to use the new processor?"
To top it off, I of course had no time to actually bake the bread loaves, asking the babysitter to put them in the oven, push the timer button and take them out (like I ever use the timer?).
In the end, the bread didn't rise as much as it could have if I hadn't rushed it. Its squatty shape and tight crumb tell all. And, yet this morning we had fresh bread for breakfast.
Rushed (or Not) Bread via Cuisinart
Adapted from the Cuisinart recipe book
4 c white flour
2 c wheat flour
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
4-6 Tbsp butter, cut into little cubes
2 c of starter mixed with 1 cup warm water (or 2 1/2 tsp yeast with 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 c warm water proofed for 10 mins and then 1 c of cool water added)
1. With the large (11 cup!!) bowl of the food processor and the dough blade (note to self: put the dough blade in before the ingredients), process the flours, salt, salt and butter on the dough setting for 15 seconds. (Isn't this amazing--15 seconds!)
2. With the processor running on dough speed, slowly pour in the starter/water or yeast/water mixture until the dough forms and pulls from the sides of the bowl. Process for 45 to 60 seconds longer.
3. Pull out your amazing dough--I really can't imagine this. I actually think you should knead it a bit by hand to continue to work the gluten or process a bit longer. As I rushed my poor loaves, I can't say for sure what caused them to be a bit short. I'll experiment and get back to you.
4. If you used proofed starter, shape two loaves and place in greased loaf pans to rise for 1-2 hours or until almost at top of pan. If you used yeast, place the dough in an oiled bowl, let it rise 1-2 hours until doubled, punch down, shape into loaves and let rise another hour before baking.
5. Bake at 400 F for approximately 30 minutes or until light golden brown on top. Turn out of pans. Bake for another 5 minutes, then cool on rack or just slice open and enjoy with lots of butter and perhaps some local honey.
**The cat is not rushed and found sunbeams today.