Monday, 31 March 2008

Scali Bread

Very excited. Very very excited. Check out my bread I made!!!

There is something deeply satisfying about making your own bread from scratch. I think it's because bread is just such a basic food, such a fundamental staple. If you can cook bread, then you're set. The whole world could fall over, but I could still eat my own fresh bread! I think there is also quite a big slosh of vanity in there too. Bread is often considered too difficult for people to make at home, and a lot of people who are quite good home cooks would never even bother trying to make it. So I like to think I can justify my little ego boost and say "yes, I made this!"

I may have mentioned this before, but I started on the bread path about 12 months ago. I even named last year the Year of the Loaf. That turned out to be a lot more wishful thinking than than reality! I made a few different breads last year - though nothing that really smacked me over the head with wonder. Lots of 6s and 7s (again) and a couple of 8s, but no smashing star.

This year I have gone hard, and I think I might even name 2008 the Year of Yeast. This is good because it gives me a bit more flexibility! The tiny cinnamon scrolls, the two different monkey breads - all yeast based baked items, but not really bread in a traditional sense. They were all well and truly worth the effort though, and made me a lot more comfortable with both yeast, and also with the idea of starting the dough the night before. So this recent effort, which required an actual "starter" didn't really seem all that daunting.

The most difficult parts of this recipe were the sheer length of each rise, and also the whole braiding thing. The braiding turned out to be fairly straightforward, and the rising times were long, but I had factored that in so it didn't turn out to be a big deal. I think part of the reason this came together so well was due to the fantastic efforts of the people at King Arthur Flour. Their blog sets out the whole recipe with a step-by-step photo tutorial.

The loaf turned out beautifully, although I would (naturally!) make a few small changes next time. It was a bit browner than I prefer, so I would tent it with foil for the last 10 minutes or so. I would also make sure I used the window pane test when mixing the dough. I forgot to do it this time and I think maybe it was a bit under-mixed. I would also leave a portion of the loaf without seeds (sorry Mum!). All in all though, it was great! At least 8/10, maybe even 9 !!! Woohooo!! Maybe I can break the 6 & 7 hoodooo!

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