Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thrice eaten bread.

Typically the only bread I make falls in the quick bread category. Baguettes are cheap and readily accessible. Also, I tend to have a fall back of sliced grocery store loaf on the counter which, for me, is certainly the most convenient bread for a spontaneous piece of toast, PB&J, or a quick grilled cheese.

I have only made real bread once or twice and I also have recorded one attempt (hey, it was pretty good) at brioche. Bread making is really enjoyable for me--the kneading is somewhat therapeutic and fresh bread really repays you for your time and effort. With minimal ingredients, a home baked loaf can be used in a variety of ways after initial consumption and staling...

My most recent baguette experience had its ups and downs. On the upside, the flavor was great because I allowed it to rise slowly in the refrigerator for almost two days. On the downside, I am far from confident on my technique and I accidentally over-baked my two short baguettes, so they were a bit too crunchy and dry.
One issue may have been that I threw some whole wheat flour into the mix, but I enjoyed the flavor despite my bread's less than perfect texture. I believe whole wheat flour absorbs moisture differently than AP or bread flour.

The bread did stale quickly (it was quite crunchy from the start). But, the point is that I still got to use it for three different applications. First, I enjoyed the warm bread with some good Spanish olive oil. This was the perfect way to satiate hunger after filling my apartment with a wonderfully yeasty baking aroma.

Later, I would chop the stale bread into small cubes. At this point, the cubes could have been seasoned and baked off for croutons or bread crumbs. But, seeing how I had some left over half & half, a couple of eggs, some shredded coconut, and a few remaining butterscotch chips--why wouldn't I make some bread pudding?
So, I essentially mixed all of the sweet treats in my kitchen into a ceramic baking vessel and baked in the oven until the liquid had set up and the top had melted/browned. This turned out to be a delightful treat; one which I ate too much of, too late at night :-o

Even later, I had a few of those stale bread cubes reserved to add into a salad. I figured they could be doused in olive oil and a bit of sherry vinegar and they would accompany some greens, beans, or perhaps some tuna fish for a Mediterranean-esque panzanella.

Hopefully my future holds some more adventures in bread baking!

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