That’s right, I did it again! I am still clinging on to the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge despite laziness, being busy with other things, and a host of other impediments. HOWEVER, I have just baked two loaves of Tuscan Bread and am now proud to annouce that I am 30 breads in and have only (only?) 13 left to go. Six non-sourdough recipes, including:
- Vienna Bread
- White Bread
- Whole-Wheat Bread
- Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes
- Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche
- Panettone (definitely regretting skipping that one now!)
And then, of course, there are the sourdough varieties that I still have to work on:
- Basic Sourdough Bread
- New York Deli Rye
- 100% Sourdough Rye Bread
- Poilane-Style Miche
- Pumpernickel Bread
- Sunflower Seed Rye
- Swedish Rye (Limpa)
Anyway, back to the task at hand. I was feeling ambivalent about the Tuscan recipe from the start. Reinhart admitted in the book that this bread would be very bland because it contains no salt—so, I knew that the bread wasn’t going to be too sensational. The book advised that the bread be served with a flavorful spread, so that’s what we ended up doing. On the other hand, however, this bread was very easy to make—particularly the starter. The night before, I simply had to mix some bread flour and boiling water together and let the concoction sit out overnight.
The next morning, I started to make the dough by adding more flour and water to the starter. This dough was kind of tough to knead since it didn’t contain much to soften it up (maybe 1 tbs of olive oil?). But, after about 10 minutes it passed the “windowpane test” (which means you can stretch a piece of dough out enough for it to be nearly see-through) and was ready to be formed into loaves.
After letting the dough rise for about 2 hours, I divided it and formed two boules, which then rose again for another 90 minutes. After spritzing them with water and scoring them, they went into the oven for about 30 minutes. They came out alright, but I made the same mistake I always make and took them out a little too early. The dough was a tad gummy around the crust when all was said and done, but other than that it was pretty good. I'm always afraid that if I leave the bread in the oven for too long, it will burn or get too dried out. But mark my words—the next time I make a loaf, I’m leaving it in until it is dark, dark brown.
We ate the bread with some tapenade that I had made earlier, and it was actually pretty tasty. Reinhart wasn’t kidding about how bland it would be, though. This bread definitely needs to be dressed up before eating. I don’t know why I didn’t photograph the bread with the tapenade on it.
So, what I neglected to mention earlier in this post is that I'm currently in the process of cultivating a FUNCTIONING seed culture for my sourdough bread!! I am currently on Day 4 of the schedule and it is bubbling away nicely. Very soon, I will be able to use the seed culture to make a "barm," or sourdough starter. Then, hopefully I will be well on my way to banging out all of those sourdough recipes in a timely fashion!
Only time will tell.