The whole reason I started reading blogs and blogging myself is the sense of community. I love reading about David Lebovitz's goings-ons in Paris and seeing Anita Chu's latest pastry masterpiece. That's why I could barely contain my excitement when I recently found out about the group Tuesdays with Dorie, a group of people who bake and blog their way through a Dorie Greenspan cookbook. They finished Baking: From My Home to Yours about 5 weeks ago, a project that took them 4 years to complete. This week they started Baking with Julia, and I'm excited to say that I've joined in.
Over 300 bakers on 6 different continents have signed up to participate. How amazing is that? Men (all four of them) and women from all over the world coming together to share something they love to do, trying new recipes and forming friendships by laughing together over their triumphs and setbacks.
The first recipe is a relatively simple one: bread. As I've already mentioned in my post about flatbread pizza, I am completely and utterly intimidated by bread. Or at least I was. After this project, I can genuinely say that I've conquered my fear.
Not only was this bread amazing but it was pretty easy. So easy that I already foresee myself making it again next weekend.
Per the rules of TWD, you can find the actual recipe on the blog of one of this week's hosts, Jules, but I've recounted my adventure with it below.
|I assembled the ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, salt, yeast, water...|
I used Bolivian Rose salt in place of regular salt; I happened to have some sitting around and it didn't change the taste, just upped the potassium a bit. It was so pretty sitting there all pink, so I figured why not. Don't worry, the bread didn't come out pink or anything.
|...let the yeast sit in the water...|
|...and mixed in the flour, sugar and salt.|
At this point, I thought my stand mixer was going to explode. It got very warm and rocked back and forth and smelled a bit funny (yes I'm sure it was the mixer, not just the yeast). Apparently the manual specifically says not to go above setting 2 when making a yeast dough (this would have been helpful information before I made the bread, but now I know for next time).
|Then I added the butter...|
...and as the recipe foretold, the dough promptly fell apart and had to be beaten back into submission. Ha ha. I crack myself up.
|I formed it into a ball...|
|...let it rest for about an hour...|
|...until it doubled in size...|
|...and then I formed half of the dough into a rectangle.|
The dough isn't totally smooth here and I do wonder if it would have come out more uniform if I'd used a rolling pin instead of just my fingers to shape it. Or if I'd let it continue to knead in the mixer for a bit longer.
|I folded it over once...|
|...tucked in the ends...|
|...and put it in the loaf pan.|
|I repeated the process with the remaining dough in 3 batches to make some small loaves.|
I could probably pretend that I did this because I thought it would be fun, but I only had one large loaf pan. And of course the little ones are super cute, and easily gift-able.
|The dough had to rest. Again. *sigh*|
Since I didn't have any place particularly warm in my apartment, I set my oven to warm for 10 minutes, then turned it off and left the oven door open for a bit to bring the temp back down to about 80 degrees F. The pans (covered with buttered plastic wrap) rested in my oven for about 45 minutes...
|...before I pulled them out to preheat the oven for the actual baking.|
The mini loaves were really smooth but the full-sized loaf was, well, craggy. It was a bit concerning, but at that point there really wasn't anything to be done except continue onward and see if the texture was inconsistent inside as well as outside.
|Longest. Hour. Ever.|
|I wanted the sides to brown a bit so I popped the loaves out of their pans 3/4 of the way through the baking time.|
And it was totally worth the wait. All of it. As it turned out, I liked that the top of the big loaf ended up a slightly textured. It didn't taste any less delicious and I think it gave the bread some personality so when I make it again I'll probably score the top if it comes out super smooth, just to get a bit of texture.
Not to go off the deep end about it, but this bread truly was amazing. We ate more than half the loaf the day I made it so I totally understand why Dorie says that you'll never buy store-bought bread again. One of the great things about this bread, to me, is that it's perfect with a minimal swipe of butter or on it's own. Too much butter overpowered the bread and the taste of it was completely lost.
I also used it to make Alice Medrich's Tropical Cinnamon Toast for breakfast the next day and I definitely wasn't disappointed with that, either. While the butter mixture did overpower the bread flavor (as it's supposed to in a recipe like this) the texture of the bread was still really nice here.
Tropical Cinnamon Toasts
Adapted from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert
- 4-6 slices of bread
- 4 T raw sugar (I had turbinado in my pantry so that's what I used)
- 4 T butter, room temperature
Note: Alice's recipe calls for unsalted butter but I used salted it was just fine. If using unsalted butter add a pinch of salt with the sugar.
- 1/2 t ground cinnamon
- Position an oven rack near the top of your oven and preheat your oven broiler.
- Mix the butter, sugar and cinnamon (and salt, if needed) until well combined.
- Cut the bread slices on the diagonal.
- Spread the butter mixture onto the pieces of bread and place on a baking sheet.
- Broil the toast until the edges turn medium-dark brown, about 1-2 minutes.
Things I learned from this project:
- When making yeast dough, never turn your Kitchen Aid stand mixer above setting 2. It's not pretty, just pretty nerve-wracking.
- Homemade bread is so worth the time and effort.