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Baking Bread: Nailed it! (Not quite)

I want to talk to you about a little lesson I learned a looonng time ago, but need to keep reminding myself of: FOLLOW THE RECIPE or at least: READ THE ENTIRE RECIPE when baking something for the first time. I am more of a cook than a baker, but I’ve suddenly developed a love affair with fresh baked bread. A friend of mine gave me ‘The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day’  for Christmas. I promptly added it to my collection of cookbooks and decided that I would look at it ‘one day’. Well that day came not too soon after when I went to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread for the first time in years. My son had just turned one and we were finally really delving into solids. I wanted to make him toast, but not only were most of the breads really expensive ($4 for loaf of bread!?), they were also loaded with unpronounceable ingredients. I went down the baking isle instead, and picked up some yeast and flour. I rushed home and made my very first loaf of sandwich bread. It came out OK. My second loaf was way better, but not exactly right. So in classic Niki fashion, instead of trying to master the sandwich bread, I simply moved on to making a different kind of bread. I made pizza crust. It came out awesome. I WISH I took pictures of these Pizzas because they turned out so well. I had a little dough left over, and I decided to make olive bread.

It’s supposed to look like this:

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And it turned out like this:

 

 

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Nailed it!

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Totally nailed it.

What did I do wrong here?

  1. I didn’t read the recipe all the way through. So I didn’t slice the top of the dough before putting it in the oven so that those beautiful olives could show through.
  2. I didn’t roll the dough back up correctly so that the olives were evenly spaced, and not just a big clump in the middle. (Not pictured)
  3. Instead brushing the bread with a cornstarch mixture before baking, I brushed it with olive oil mixed with garlic powder. It seemed like a good idea in theory, but when the oven was over 450 degrees, so I should have known that the garlic would burn, and therefore turn bitter.

With all that being said, it actually tasted pretty good. I went out and bought some different flours and different types of yeast to play around with to finally perfect my sandwich bread. I will report back those results as soon as I have them. In addition to flours and yeasts for bread, I’m also delving into other areas if ingredient exploration: Vinegar.

For some reason (maybe some of you will agree), I feel like to be a knowledgeable home cook, you need to know your vinegar. I do not know my vinegar at all. Well, let me correct that – I know that different types of vinegar exist: Balsamic, white, red wine, rice,  apple cider etc., but I want to know more about the different applications of vinegar and I want to also know if there really is a difference between brands and types. I recently took a Thai cooking class, and to make one of the dishes I needed some kind of vinegar. I went to our local Asian supermarket, and there was an ENTIRE aisle dedicated to vinegar. In the following weeks, I plan to research and taste and create many types of vinegars and report back.

 

Enjoy your week, and Happy Eating,

-Niki

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