Sunday, January 11, 2009

Baking Bread

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire, from The Bread Bakers Apprentice, which I think is a great book, particularly if you're into baking geekery because it gives fairly extensive how and why of different ingredients and techniques. It's one that I don't bake from nearly enough.

I only sort of followed the recipe. I didn't have any wheat bran and was loathe to go buy some just for a couple of tablespoons worth, so I used extra of the other grains. These included oats, polenta-style cornmeal, cooked brown rice, and most interestingly, quinoa. The quinoa I just happened to have a bit of laying around, leftover from last summers' experiments with it where I discovered I didn't heart it as much as I would have hoped. (Revisit that adventure here.)
And I didn't have the instant yeast called for (or rather I have a whole huge pagackage that seems to be dead despite having been stored in the freezer) so I just used a package of good old Red Star from my pantry and added it to the liquids to hydrate it first instead of the direct method, i.e. adding it to the dry ingredients, as is possible with instant yeast.

I was trying for a baguette shape, but I hadn't made this particular recipe before and I realized once I had shaped and set the loaves to rise that it's not really that kind of a dough. So they got a little flat and pudgy but it's a shape that will work great for sandwiches when sliced through the middle.

And it's darn tasty, too. A bit sweet for my palate, but that makes great for eating plain with just butter and the texture is nice and chewy with the combination of grains. The topping is nigella seed because my poppy seeds were, um, not usable. Turns out the nigella is a win...peppery and spicy and a nice foil to the sweetness....yum!
We ate a bit with our leftover squash soup from the other night an the rest got stashed in the freezer. And I have to say that knowing I have homemade bread of any sort in the freezer makes me just so, so happy. Much more so than other kinds of leftovers.


hi, how do you like your concrete countertops by now?Is it hard to roll out crust or knead dough or whatever on a concrete counter? you can't take a pan sheet out of the oven and set it down, right? would you suggest them?
Ohhhh I love. love. love them, and I still wouldn't choose anything else, but as I expected, they are not no maintenence. The only thing I try to be careful with is acid stuff like lemon or lime juice, as that will etch riteawayquick, and the only fix is to polish off the mark and reseal.
It's a great surface for any kind of dough work. I've never worried about heat, or at least not any more than any other surface....what countertop material WOULD you put a pan straight from the oven on to? Certainly 2" inches of concrete would be more tolerant of that than other types of stone.
Suggest them? I wouldn't pay the insane $$ to have them professionally fabricated, no, but if it's a project that interests you and you're willing to do a little maintenence once in a while to reseal/polish them (or you can live with them not being shiny), then absolutely. It's one of the best $1K we spent for the house, IMO.
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