I’ve been on a bread-baking kick lately, tossing out a loaf every day for the past week.
Flour, yeast, salt, water is all one needs to make a slim-n-trim baguette or a rustic boule loaf that can be hollowed out to make a bowl for French onion soup. So simple, so tasty and so much better than anything – even the premium bread – available at supermarkets, and for just a fraction of the price.
Flour, yeast, salt, water. What could be simpler? I suppose it is simpler to drive to the supermarket and buy a loaf of bread. But supermarket bread, even the more expensive, fancy loaves, don’t taste as good as a mediocre loaf of home-baked bread. Besides, Keith dotes on my home baked bread. He doesn’t mind one bit whether it was made the hard way with a starter and two rounds of kneading and two rounds of rising, or by one of the newer, no-knead breads that Jim Lahey of Sullivan St Bakery made so famous.
I have been trying to perfect the bread recipe in the book, The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking, to get the perfect crust and crumb: crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside with those prized big holes in the crumb. I like the idea of having dough in my fridge and being able to bake a loaf as needed so we always have fresh bread for Keith’s lunch sandwiches or for French toast or croutons or whatever.
So, this week, we decided to plan our dinners around bread. Almost everything we (read, I, because Keith cannot be trusted in the kitchen) cook must be something that can and should be eaten with bread: cream of (wild) mushroom soup or my serendipitous ginger-scallion-chicken soup for instance…or blackened catfish sandwiches. I’d been meaning to give Vietnamese bahn mi sandwiches a go, so I think a grilled lemongrass chicken sandwich with quick pickled carrots and a lime dressing is in order.
There is something very elemental and comforting in the smell of bread as it bakes. Keith coos over the bread I bake and fawns over me a little extra because I bake it for him. He likes to be the one to saw into the bread with our serrated bread knife watching for the moment the hard crust gives way for the springy crumb. I have to watch him like a hawk though, to keep him from cutting up a slice before the bread has had a chance to cool. Romantic though the notion is, cutting into warm bread, flattens the bread and makes the inside gummy. But that’s a good problem to have, isn’t it?
This is what happiness is all about: a content husband, the smell of bread baking away in the oven and home-cooked meals. If I could have these forever, I should have nothing to ever complain about.
If anyone is interested in photos of my bread (or even recipes) please leave a comment and I can get it for you. 🙂