Monday, February 27, 2012

Bread winning - Pt. 1

Although I have been cooking for several years, I was never much of a baker.  Only recently has the desire to BAKE ALL THE THINGS!  arisen in me.  A couple of weeks ago I attempted to bake bread using a recipe that a good friend left with me on his last visit.  It ended up a near complete failure.  See, I did not know (rather, was told but forgot) that when baking with whole wheat flour, it's advised to cut it with 50% or more white bread flour.  If you don't, it won't rise.  I learned this the hard way.

The bread my friend had made was with 100% bread flour - something I didn't do because we never eat white bread.  Don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but my husband and I have always been fans of whole wheat bread.  Better flavor, better nutrition.  So I happily picked up a bag of 100% whole wheat flour from the store, naively passing over the bright yellow "better for bread" flour.

I came home, as excited as could be, and began the preparations.  I let the starter develop for an hour, and all looked well.  I then added in the rest of the ingredients, and kneaded it for 10 minutes.  I started to get a little scared during the kneading - the dough was very tough to knead, it was splitting, and was not very "bouncy"; not the shiny smooth, sproingy ball that my friend's was.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that if I put it in the pan and let it be, it would miraculously rise.  I came back an hour later to this:

Epic Fail.

Well, shit.   If I were to bake it like that, it would have been nothing more than a delicious brick. At first, I didn't know what to do with it, and I didn't want to throw it out.  Waste is a dirty little 5-letter word.    

Then it hit me...PIZZA!  Sure, the crust would likely be a bit chewy and tough, but more manageable than trying to power through a piece of bread the density of a black hole!  I whipped out my rolling pin and began the transformation.

Dinner was quickly approaching, so I had to think fast - I didn't have any sauce on hand, but I had ingredients!  I threw together what I had, simmered it for roughly 30 minutes, pureed it a couple of ladles at a time in my little 3 cup food processor, and voila!  Pizza sauce.
2 cans diced tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic,
a big handful of chopped fresh parsley,
dried oregano, and  sugar to cut the acidity.

Ta da!  Ready for application to the bread-fail-turned-pizza experiment!
Conveniently I also had mozarella on hand, with no real plan for use.  It had a destiny all along.  Add that all together and what do ya have?  Fuckin pizza.    

I baked that sucker at 400F for I don't even remember how long, honestly.  I think  it was 20 minutes. 

Notice the bag of bread flour there?  Yeah, I sent DH to buy that
after I accepted my bread experiment was completely fucked.   Oh yeah,
I made hot wings too!!!!!!  NOM NOM NOM.

I'm proud that my first and failed attempt at bread turned into my first and and somewhat decent pizza.  Live and learn, trial and error...all that jazz.

And today, I am making my second attempt at baking bread.  Last time, I halved the recipe to yield only 1 loaf of bread (or in this case, 1 pizza) because I was afraid of screwing it up.  Good thinking...I'm glad I didn't waste my flour.  This time, I am using the full recipe.  I plan to bake 2 large pan loaves.  The timing couldn't be more perfect because my fancy new bread knife is arriving tomorrow!  

Check back later today for Part 2, to find out if my bread was another complete failure or an epic win.  I will also be posting the recipe in Part 2.      


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