The loaf of bread was still steaming on the cooling rack. Gave it a tap with a fingernail and heard a very promising thump.
When we cut into the loaf and scarfed down a bite, Jenn said, “Oh my god, that’s the best bread I’ve had outside of The Netherlands.”
I’m not saying that to brag, but to illustrate this point: The loaf of bread I’d made is the first recipe in Josey Baker’s bread book, which, recipe-by-recipe, loaf-by-loaf, teaches you to make bread. As Jenn recently wrote, we’re eschewing traditional resolutions this year in favor of a specific (and, frankly, stupid) budgetary goal, but I’m still going to tackle a few odd projects in 2016. Namely, finishing the bar renovation, building a secondary compost bin for us to further roast our organic matter, and working my way through two instructional books:
- “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing,” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
- “Josey Baker Bread,” by Baker (who swears that’s his real name). Thanks to Root Simple for turning us onto this book a while back.
Both of these books are supposed to be the bibles of their perspective foodcrafts. I started with the bread book. Because, bread. And because the book about making sausages promises to be a bit problematic, as I’ll need to acquire a meat grinder, a sausage stuffer and a cool, dry place to store the meat before I can get to the thing I really want to do with the book — which is make sausage, duh.
Baker’s first recipe is for a regular, ol’ white sandwich loaf. I’ve promised to master each one before moving on to the next project, so I’ve baked that loaf three times, learning a bit more about how variations in yeasts and water temps affect the loaf. I’ve also learned important things about planning. Making the bread is easy, but timing the various ferment and resting phases can be tough for busy folk.
That said, I’ve baked three winners. As we speak, the mix for the second recipe is doing a little chemical action in a bowl and is about to go in the fridge for several days. This one adds a little whole wheat flour to the mix, which is supposed to add flavor and make it last longer.
It’s cute that he thinks it needs to taste better. Or last longer.
I’ll keep y’all posted on my progress throughout the year. We found the book secondhand and considering the fancy loaves downtown would run us about $7 per, it’s already paid for itself, even considering the bag of bread flour and packets of yeast.
Looking forward to breaking digital bread with you guys throughout 2016.