The other day I chanced upon a rice cooker. I was super stoked, it was the kind with the steamer basket and the bowl, you know what I’m talking about? Anyway, I wanted to show Cara how easy it was to cook beans in the thing and before I knew it I had lima bean hummus. Well, not exactly hummus, sort of a French bean dip, what with the thyme and wine and all. (And if you’re curious as to why I wanted to show off how to cook beans, perhaps one day I’ll post about the pressure cooker incident and the beanspot on the kitchen ceiling.)
So. There I was with a bowlful of hummus and nowhere to go. I’ve been experimenting with breads lately and, truth be told, failing miserably. It turned out the yeast I was working with didn’t need a better recipe, it needed a funeral. Today would be different though! Armed with new yeast, whole wheat flour and that thing with feathers (that Ms. Emily Dickenson’s been known to call hope) I began once again to learn the oldest trick in the cookbook.
I’ve always maintained that bread requires less of a recipe and more of an equation. Perhaps that’s where I get so bogged down. Blindly following orders has never been my forte. So instead I did some research. I pulled out Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom (that would be Julia Child, of course) and got my basic ratio: 3 1/2 cups of flour to a cup of water with a packet of yeast, a pinch of salt, some sugar and rye flour thrown in for good measure and then I dug around on the interwebs til I found thefreshloaf.com.
After that it was one part creative flour usage and some elbow grease. Here’s how it all went down:
1 1/2c. White Flour
1 1/2c. Whole Wheat Flour
1/4c. Rye Flour
1 Packet of Yeast in 1/2c. Warm Water with 2tbl. Honey (that I let rise in a slightly warmed oven)
About another 3/4c. water
A Pinch of Salt
So, once the yeast proofs, put all my dry ingredients in a bowl, add the yeast and the water-slowly though so the dough doesn’t get too wet- and stop when it becomes a ball.
Then knead the hell out of it for a while, put it in a bowl, cover it (I used plastic wrap) and let it rise somewhere warm.
Go do other stuff and when you remember you’re making bread, it’s probably ready. It should be at least doubled.
Roll it into 8 balls (though I think next time I’ll make tiny pitas) and then roll them flat with a rolling pin so they’re less than 1/4 inch thick.
They went two at a time onto a pizza stone in a 400 degree oven til they puffed (it really was only about 3 minutes) and then I burned my finger on the steam. NOTE: DO NOT BURN YOUR FINGER ON THE STEAM! Turns out it’s steam that makes them puff. Go figure. Guess that’s why the recipe called for more water than regular bread. Seriously, they don’t call me Ms. Science…at all…
But really, that was it. I don’t know if it was my diligent recipe-following or the little prayer I recited when I tossed them in the oven but they came out GREAT! Of course we all know it wasn’t the prayer, that’s just silly, superstitious nonsense. I’ve included the prayer for you though, just to be on the safe side.
Who Art In Kitchen
Hollowed Sound Thy Loaves
When The Time Has Come
And The Bread Be Done
Here As It Was In Your Cookbook
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
And Forgive Us Our Inaccuracy With Measuring Cups
As We Forgive Those Who Mistake Our Measure
And Lead Us Not Into Impatience
But Deliver Us From Self-Doubt
For Thine Is The Knowledge And The Tools And The Inquisitive Spirit
Forever And Ever