Sunday loaf

October 24, 2011

OK, it's a funky color. It's good. Trust me on this.

It seems that Sunday has become my baking day. Saturday’s errand-running and shopping and assorted stuff day, and Sunday is the time I stay home and am peaceful and, well, bake. Because I can, particularly when now that it’s getting cooler. 

Finished product. Fine-looking, and tasting, stuff.

I perhaps overindulged a bit Saturday night, so I slept late Sunday morning and lazed around the house all day. Well, I got up and cooked breakfast, but it was somewhere close to 10:30 or 11 before I got around to it, and then I put some short ribs in to braise.

And then I commenced to peruse bread recipes, until I settled on one. Roasted tomato bread, in point of fact. I had those tomatos I’d oven-dried last weekend and had stashed in the fridge, and I had a dab of tomato paste I needed to use, and saw a recipe for it, and, um, slightly adapted. Because, you know, tomato bread ought to be even better with about a cup of grated pecorino Romano in it, no? Yes.

The basic recipe came off the King Arthur Flour website, for a bread machine, and was this:

Makes One (1 1/2-pound) Loaf

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Baker’s Special Dry Milk or instant powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups (13 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour
2 tablespoons (1/4 ounce) chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Asiago cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons instant yeast

And that’s what I started with. But, seriously? Two tablespoons of sun-dried tomatos? A quarter cup of cheese? What’s the point? That ain’t nothing but white bread with a weird taste to it.

I used a cup of chopped tomatos, and a cup of cheese, and the tomato paste. And then, since my tomatos had moistened up somewhat from a week in the fridge — it was my first time to oven-dry the little darlings, and I didn’t want to over-dry them, so they were a little more moist than perhaps they should have been to start with — I had to add probably a whole ‘nother cup of flour.

I did stop myself when it was a pretty soft batter. My adventure in bread-baking to this point, which is something less than six months old, has had me chunking a lot of loaves of bread that were dense and dry because I kept adding more flour to get the dough to come together on Ms. Scarlett’s dough hook. So this was a pretty floppy dough, but I went ahead and stuck it in the bowl to rise.

I kid you not. It looks like pimiento cheese.

And rise it did. (This was my first adventure with my new one-pound bag of yeast, which I ordered after I got tired of paying four bucks a 2-ounce jar for the stuff in the grocery or a buck and a half for three little packets, so I ordered a pound which, with shipping, cost me a little less than eight bucks. A nod to Roberta, whose blog, “A Pound of Yeast,” inspired me to order the big bag. Where does one order yeast, one asks? Where you order everything, the marketplace of the world — Amazon. Mine came shipped with a new lens for my camera and a sausage grinder attachment for Ms. Scarlett. Variety, thy name is Amazon.) But I digress. The bread, with its additional cup of flour and the new yeast (Fleischmann’s, if you wondered), just about tripled in bulk over the course of an hour and 15 minutes.

It rose right handily the second time around, too, and resulted in two nice pound-and-a-half loaves. The dough had a color that reminded me of nothing in the world so much as pimiento cheese, with the little pops of tomato in it, and when it was baked and I tasted, I considered that a pimiento cheese sandwich might be just a fine use of this bread. It has a bit more assertive basil flavor than I think would be optimal; I love basil, so that ain’t no thing, but it’s almost like the basil — I used a tablespoon of dried — overpowered the relatively gentle tomato taste.

I could also see it with chopped up pepperoni or salami in it; it’d taste just like a pizza. And I could see it with a nice olive tapenade, or with an antipasto platter of cheese and sausages. It’s good stuff. I’ll make it again.

Probably no more news until near week’s end, if then, as I have a full day tomorrow and am leaving at oh-early-thirty Wednesday for the Cuban Food Capital Of The Free World, i.e. Miami, where I will attend board meetings, hang on the A1A for a while, smoke good cigars and eat fried plantains and vaca frita and lechon asado every damn day, maybe more than once a day, until Saturday. And then I will come home.

And I might drink a Cuba Libre or two. It’s supposed to get cold and rainy Wednesday, a good day to go to Miami. You and y’mama ‘n ’em don’t get cold while I’m gone.

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