Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bread Part Deux

I'm almost embarrassed to make the following admission... but to my shame, the recipe that has made fresh bread a daily occurrence in the nest comes from the undisputed Queen of Perky herself... Rachel Ray. I know, I know. It makes me hang my nerdly head in shame.

Shame aside... it really is good bread. But then, anything that starts with “Take a head and a half of roasted garlic” is bound to be something which will my little heart pitter patter. I found this recipe while perusing Ms. Ray's latest magazine (yes, I know. I should be embarrassed to admit it, but she IS easier to take in written form then in person. I can mute the perkiness when it is confined to the interior of my own skull.), in a section devoted solely to the joys of roasted garlic. While I have roasted a few garlic bulbs in my day, I must confess it has been a while. How I could have walked away from the joy that is roasted garlic frankly confounds me. Simplicity in itself – all that is required is a few bulbs of garlic with a ¼ of an inch of the tops chopped off, lay in tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap tightly and chuck into the oven for 45 minutes at somewhere between 350 and 400 degrees : pull out when the garlic can be oozed out like golden toothpaste of happiness. After rediscovering this little joy, I can honestly say there are few times when my oven is heated that I don't just toss a little tinfoil bomb in along with whatever has to bake. This gooey substance makes me remember while I love to cook.

Her recipe can be found in the newest issue of her magazine... but if you can't bring yourself to buy (or be caught perusing) the magazine, she has kindly published it online at This bread combines everything I love into one little package of yeasty joy. A yeast raised bread – so plenty of chewy goodness – with all the care and work of raising sea monkeys. (In other words – little to no real work in the construction. Yay for nerdly sloth!) In most breads the real work is in the beginning. Careful mixing, kneading, tireless attentiveness to keeping it warm and working. In the end, you simply chuck the work laden doughy orb into a pan and let the oven take it from there. In the case of this flatbread... the order of effort is reversed. My handy dandy Kitchen Aide (I highly recommend buying one or do what I did. Marry someone who will give it to you for Christmas.) beat the dickens out of the soft dough for 5 minutes and then I tossed it into the microwave to work itself into a frenzy while I watched tv and knit. (Side note – easiest way to get your bread to proof* in a drafty old house? Soak a CLEAN dishtowel in water and put in the microwave. Zap the wet towel for one minute until everything is good and steamy. Push the towel to the back and pop in your dough – in a bowl – and close the door. The steam will keep it warm, the seals with keep it rising, and the latched door will keep the cats at bay.**) The only effort is at the end, where instead of turning on the stove and hiking the gas bill, the whole shebang gets cooked on a dry skillet on top of the stove. Eight pieces of bread... three minutes a piece, and joy and happiness rings out in the homestead.

A few notes to those that try the recipe. One? Please don't think garlic is the only way to go here. I've already found that substitutions are the order of the day with this recipe. Slowly, I'm mixing it up with the flours – sliding it from white to whole wheat with ease. Don't want a savory bread? Nix the garlic and add some extra honey. No buttermilk in the house? Either toss some vinegar in the regular cow juice doctored (I never have buttermilk on hand, and I am danged if I am gonna buy an ingredient just for one application. A cup of milk with a Tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice works every time.), or skip the tang and use the moojuice of choice. Hmmmm... wonder if a sweet version made with chocolate milk would work? This is a good solid recipe and with the whole oven avoidence thing, a rather green choice as well.

Secondly? Try not to get too caught up in the rolling out of the dough. Perfect concentric circles reeeaalllyy aren't gonna happen unless you are scary anal retentive. Just accept each piece is going to be a piece of freeform art and go with the flow. Already I have mastered several distinct forms. There's the Scream (ala' the famous painting), a lovely rendition of south Texas... or possibly Italy. Depends on how you hold the bread. A think I had one that looked like George Bush the other day.... but the Prime Geek thought it looked more like a 57' Chevy.

Whatever the appearance, I'm just thrilled to have REAL bread be a part of my eating life again. Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think.***

*Fancy baker speak for “Make the dough get all big and gassy.”
** In OUR house... this is a vital concern. I'll accept paw prints and hair on my black clothes, but I draw the line in my food.
*** Okay, okay. I promised pictures. But at the moment, my camera isn't talking to computer. UN negotiators tried... but that just made my computer threaten to bomb New Jersey in retaliation. Until things have calmed down you'll just have to squint and imagine what it all looks like. Deal, disappointment is a vital part of the maturation process.

1 comment:

Lydia said...

No need to apologize for using a Rachael Ray recipe -- I'm for anything that gets people in the kitchen and brings them enjoyment (and garlic!).