It would be difficult to say that I am a bread fanatic. I know some people are, and I do feel some sympathy for you. It must be difficult. I do not feel TOO much sympathy for you, though, as I am a dessert fanatic, and desserts are even worse for you than bread (though very, very good for your soul and your ability to cope with stupid people). I am slightly obsessed with being able to create bread, though, and have recently been trying a lot harder.
I got the Culinary Institute cookbook for “Baking at Home.” The book is fascinating. I have it up next to the bed, and I have a nasty tendency to lie on my stomach and read it while Chris is trying to go to sleep. It’s a little bit sad because he’s so sleepy and cute and then I start moaning and I know it startles him that he’s not involved in that process. Whatever. I like looking at food porn. I can admit that without shame, since at least it’s not something really bad, like kiddie porn. *Note: Is looking at baby vegetables sauteed in butter and honey considered kiddie porn?*
Anyway, I get all these crazy ideas about what I can do the next day, and have been doing some decent work. So far, I made an olive bread that was pretty good, but totally cheating since I started with a K.A. Flour mix. But the next day I went and bought a bunch of absurdly expensive specialty flours and yeasts to create my own bread without cheating very much, unless you call my unwillingness to knead anything without my KitchenAid and dough hook “cheating,” which I don’t.
I went with the Culinary Institute recipe for french bread. What you see at the top is the fruit of my labors. And it was lip-smackingly (arguably ass-smackingly) good. As soon as it was cool enough that I could legitimately touch it without collapsing the crumb, I cut off a big wedge, wiped it down with a cut garlic clove, and coated it with a thick smear of unsalted butter. I then handed it to Chris, who looked pretty pleased with himself, probably because he’s marrying someone who can make bread from scratch and is not an old, German woman with a singular bosom. Is there nothing more lust-inducing than a hot slice of bread? Even I, with my general indifference to a slice of bread, am melted into a pudding of quivering delight by the smells, feels, tastes, and even sounds of homemade bread fresh out of the oven. It crackles when it comes out. Did you know that? Sounds like a tiny iceberg hitting some warm water. It’s because the crust shrinks when it hits the cooler air, I think.
Anyway, it was good. So now I’ve got an organic potato sitting with some flour and water on our windowsill. I’m hoping, with three days of lovingly feeding it, to create a base of wild Texas sourdough. It sounds ridiculous, but you can catch wild yeast that floats through the air this way, let it grow and collect, and then make really good sourdough bread that is unique to the region in which you collect it. I’ll let you know how that goes…