Life doesn't go according to plan...
I'm obsessed with planning. I had hours' worth of homework lined up last weekend, and I spent at least an hour listing it all out and planning the time it would take, when I would do what and how much time to spend doing what when.
But unfortunately, I've learned the hard way that planning is sometimes redundant.
You know, when you say you'll finish something in an hour, and what feels like 45 minutes later, you look at your clock and realise that you've spent 1 and a half hours writing half a page.
Art work that's been dragging on for weeks and that I'm supposed to finish still doesn't finish; past exam papers that I've been planning to solve for ages still lie unsolved...
The same thing happens with cooking. I was dying to make bread this weekend- David Lebovitz's 'No-Knead Whole-Wheat Loaf' is supposed to be the ultimate foolproof recipe>
I read in a hilarious article by a self-proclaimed 'kitchen klutz' that it's one of the few recipes that she manages to pull of time and again. She said that, as if by sorcery, a shaggy mess transforms into a huge, springy lump, and then into a warm, crusty-outside & pillowy-inside brown boule.
I followed this recipe to the T: each and every step, each measurement and time and temperature.
Shaggy mess? check. Massive ball of dough? um... no. Perfect, crusty brown bread? nope.
I don't know what went wrong... I was puzzled that there was no sugar in the recipe, but I just went with it. Is there really no sugar, or was it a typo?
Anyway, I decided to learn from the last time I tried making bread and to just follow the instructions and chuck it in the oven. The end result was a flat, rectangular loaf of bread that tasted much like ciabatta. I made the mistake of positioning the oven rack too low and the bottom got a bit burnt, but that actually compensated for the lack of a crunchy top. I enjoyed a lovely sandwich with honey, cheddar and cottage cheese. I did a whole photo shoot of the bread, and I'm upset because now I can't find the photos anywhere... I'll post them if I ever find them. In an attempt to prevent the bread from drying out, we kept it in an airtight container on the kitchen counter, but it got mouldy after a few days :(
Thousands of people have supposedly sworn by this recipe-- have you tried it? Any advice?
In the meantime, just go with the flow and see what comes out. You never know-- you may at least get a sandwich out of it. And sandwiches are pretty cool.
By David Lebovitz
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.