December 7, 2008
The male relatives in my family have a certain reluctance to actually post comments on this blog, but I often get e-mail responses to specific posts. In the case of my no-knead bread tale from a couple of days ago, I got two such comments, both of which warrant posting publicly:
From the male half of the longest-running, happiest couple I know: “Wives are such a mess. They never do what we want them to do or they screw up our great plans. Why do we keep them? And I have been doing it for almost 65 years.”
From a long-time home baker (who did once use baking soda instead of baking powder in a batch of biscuits in my youth — no one is perfect!): “If you ever really get into this bread making thing, you might want to invest in a small heating pad which I have used for years. The other side of that is that chances are it will rise just as well at a cooler temperature, it just takes longer. By cooler, I mean like 60 degrees. Warmer than 70 will likewise speed it up. It’s not an exact science and there is probably a fair amount of leeway built into this recipe. Let me know how it comes out!”
Now, the one person who commented was the person who inadvertently inspired the effort in the first place. And, she was the second person who requested details on the results. So, here goes…
In a word, the results were: GREAT!
The space heater and dough got moved to the utility room later in the evening because Josh and Benton decided to sleep in Benton’s room rather than the basement (Benton insisted that the dough could remain in his room with the space heater while they slept, and that, if it got too warm, which he realized it probably would, they could open a window to let the 20-degree air in, but would position the dough in front of the space heater so it would remain warm. I suggested we could put a humidifier in the room as well, if he wanted to bypass a guaranteed cold and go straight for double pneumonia!). By the morning, the dough had indeed grown in size and had little bubbles on the surface. I turned it out on a floured surface and formed it into a ball around 11:00 that morning. A couple of hours later, it went in the Dutch oven in the oven, and 45 minutes later it was done! The crust was indeed hard…but crumbly rather than tough, as promised. It was tasty, so, it’s worth repeating.
HOWEVER…the title of this post mentions “unleaven solidarity,” and that wasn’t just to raise Amy’s hopes, only to dash them with a tale of unqualified success. There is unlevenness in this tale! What I didn’t mention in the original post was that, since I was making a new bread recipe, I figured I might as well haul out the bread machine and have a fresh loaf ready for breakfast on Saturday morning. As best I can tell, I was so nonplussed by the fact that the no-knead recipe only required 1/4 teaspoon of rapid rise yeast (with 3 cups of flour) that I just left the yeast out of the bread machine recipe altogether. When I pulled the container out of the bread machine on Saturday morning, I had a 2″ tall, 1.5-lb square hockey puck loaf. Both Benton and Josh insisted that the dense center was tasty, but the loaf was soon sliced up and transferred to the suet holders in the backyard bird feeder. Doh!