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Adventures in Baking

March 18, 2010
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Some of you may know something about me, something that has been documented several times. I am a bit frightened by working with dough of any type. Yeast doughs, pie crusts, you name it, if it has flour, needs kneading, or any form of handling, I am a bit scared to handle it. This has all started to change. With the trend of the “no-knead” method for baking bread, it’s been a bit safer to get into this territory, and I am happy to say that my fear is gone and I’m enthusiastic about bread! I am to the point where Elysabeth wants to kill me, which means to me that I’ve gotten into it authentically and excitedly.

We recently made the aforementioned jalapeno-cheddar no-knead loaves, and they turned out pretty darn well. Going from there, I decided last Sunday to make an even easier Ciabatta that I found on LifeHack, with some added Herbs de Provence, that ended up ok (it lacked enough salt). Since I’ve been reading and reading about bread recipe after bread recipe, I finally wanted to get into the basics of real bread making. Last night, I worked on two different recipes: a pizza dough for tonight that I found on the King Arthur Flour site, and some cheese crackers that came from Montana (via The Kitchn) that were both quite good!

I diverted slightly on the pizza crust recipe by performing just the first rise (out and in of the refrigerator) and stretching it without a secondary rise, but it came out nice and chewy in the thinner sections, and nice and crispy on the outsides. We made the Thai Chicken Pizza from January and it turned out so well, both because of the awesome (even better than last time) sauce and the happy feeling about making a totally homemade pizza.

The cheese cracker dough was more like a pie crust than any kind of bread dough. It came together in the food processor, was assembled in a ball and smushed into a disk that went into the refrigerator. After it rested it was rolled out and cut with the pizza cutter and baked at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes (different thicknesses). I diverted from the recipe, because we didn’t have any cheddar in the house. We *did*, however, have some Gruyere around from another day, and I grated it and some Romano and the crackers came out SO WELL. They were sharp, had a nice bite of pepper and saltiness and were a big hit at my office.

The summary here is simple. Don’t fear dough, and it won’t fear you! Embrace baking. I am SO happy to have the beginnings of a feel for this stuff, and I can’t wait to keep trying new stuff. Stay tuned!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2010 8:07 pm

    Baking is the raddest! It’s funny – I fear cooking way more than baking. Baking I just kind of wing. Bread has become way more awesome to make when I started using the knead function of the Kitchenaid.

  2. Marc permalink*
    March 21, 2010 8:13 am

    That’s amusing that we have opposite fears in the kitchen. When you wing it, how do you know the right ratios to use for flour, yeast, water, etc? That’s the stuff I just don’t have an intuition for yet.

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