Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Loaf or Two, or Three

My favorite part of this bread recipe from Alicia, at Posie Gets Cozy, is where it says, "The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Shaggy dough? Such an intriguing word, almost worth the trouble of making the dough just to see what this shagginess is all about.

Otherwise, I really have no business baking bread. Not now. We have guests coming, and I have a sincere, if feeble, interest in making the corners tidy, and the surfaces clear(er). But, look... obviously I could not resist.

Call it a perfect storm, for wanton bread making.
First thing: I realized I had three bags of flour in the pantry. I think I bought a sack of flour for each month of winter, imagining, willing myself to be a merry cook and baker.

Secondly: Alicia insisted we "pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease try it right away," and honestly, she had already piqued my interest with the first picture of that beautiful loaf. Her blog has long been an inspiring favorite of mine.

Thirdly: I had yeast. Fresh yeast. No trips to the market necessary, and that is a huge bonus.

Fourth factor: The one room that actually is was tidy... the kitchen, and it was warm and welcoming, enticing me to be the merry baker.

Fifth influence: April showers. It was ideal weather for heating the oven, and filling the air with good smells and warmth.

Five solid, supportive rationals for diving in! So, why not?!

I have no regrets, but I cannot help sharing the whole picture, a little post-baking analysis.

1. I read the recipe... er... well, I looked at Alicia's pictures, and felt all warm and tingly inside, which is not exactly the same thing as critically reading a recipe. Here is what I figured out long, long after I had three bowls of dough rising...
a. I do not own a Dutch oven.
b. the recipe is called "Dutch Oven Bread"
c. it requires 12-18 hours time to rise, and I was imagining this bread being eaten for dinner, the day of.
d. starting the recipe in the morning would suggest that I would be baking sometime well before dawn, the next day. Like a true baker!

2. I am the fool who rushes in. Instead of appreciating how easy it was to mix up one batch of dough, clean, and move on to more pressing matters... I decided to be marvelous! Why not two loaves? Why not three? Suddenly, the once tidy kitchen was getting shaggy. One bag of flour snagged when I brought it out, throwing a white cloud in the air, which gravity took a hold of, covering most surfaces. Nothing tempts fate more than a woman who thinks she has things under control, who takes photographs to share her proud moment of domestic marvelousness... now phones are ringing, goats are bleating, chickens are in distress, things are blowing around in the storm, and those pressing matters are pressing more and more. Why, oh why, do I rush in?

I hadn't even tried baking bread in nine years. Nine years. Goodness. How can this be? Maria was astonished to hear that actual bread was being prepared at home. Goodness. How can this be?

The recipe for Dutch Oven Bread really is easy. And if you do not rush in, like me, then you will probably enjoy simple and faith restoring success making this bread. Turn off your phone. Start before bedtime, and let the night take its time, raising your dough. Procure your baking dish, and be sure you have all the ingredients and tools on hand. Don't let a hot oven par-bake your rising dough... like I did. Doh! Don't forget to read the recipe all the way through. Don't forget to dust the baking dish with cornmeal or flour, as per the recipe... I did, forget. Doh! And remember, the last rise time is two hours, and not eight, so set your alarm if you must!

Do you like how, even in the midst of making bad baking mistakes, and huge messes, I still pick up the camera? I figured I might as well be honest, and show the results of being careless, clueless, and foolhardy with a simple recipe. But... you know what? This may be a foolproof recipe... how fortunate for me. The bread, even after those six extra hours to rise and inflate like a shaggy blob, smelled good, and looked... well, semi-good, and tasted: Good.

My confidence was shaken, then restored, and I am even thinking about next time. Thank you, Alicia.


warren said...

Good thing you have this blog to document things you do...if next time is 9 years away, you are bound to need encouragement!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Valid point.
Totally valid.
Of course, looking at my pictures... I could not
possibly be too encouraged.
Pic #1: Tra-lalala... I am baker woman!
Pic #2: Oooh... this takes focus, purpose, skill. Hmmmm....
Pic #3: Blargghh

Kim said...

I can smell it now! Life would be so boring if you didn't just jump in sometimes right?!

judy in ky said...

Some of life's best moments are "rushed into"! This looks like one of them.

nikkipolani said...

Natalie, you're at it again, I see -- living up to your motto: Never give up! I'm glad you persisted and had a delicious loaf (or more) to show for it.

Rois said...

I love Posie gets cozy too,I lurk on her blog since there are always a million comments all the time.

Somehow I missed this bread and now I am going to have to try it out.

ArtyZen said...

This post made me chuckle shaggily. I too bound through life as an eternal optimist, jumping in without checking that water's actually there - so I loved it - and I think the bread looks, smells and tastes absolutely wonderful.
(What is it with those bags of flour??)

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

I want to hear a "shaggy chuckle!"
So... it must have been pretty good, because William just walked into my office to ask about baking this bread for Saturday. Also, he wants to learn how to make it. Sounds like we are having a baking lesson, Friday night!