Thursday, December 13, 2012

Must. Have. Bread.

There is something that you should know about me. If you told me that I could never eat chocolate again I would be sad, very sad. But I would live with that news and be ultimately fine, and perhaps thinner.

If you told me that I would have to give up all bread. Well, I would just have to kill you and bury your body where no one would find you and then go right back to my bread filled life.

The bread addiction is that serious.

I blame it on Europe actually. Well, Europe and Peru. You know maybe I should say that the blame lies with Europe, Peru and Mexico. Mexico? Yes Mexico.  Honestly here in the US of A I don’t think we really comprehend what good, artisan bread tastes like. And feels like as you bite into a chewy, dense crust and lovely yeasty bread. Good bread, by my definition anyway, is not Brownberry or Wonder or any of those commercial breads. And don’t get your panties in a big old wad cuz that is what you like to eat. Eat away my friend! That kind of bread just doesn’t appeal to me although I have eaten my fair share in years past.

Suddenly I am very hungry.

At any rate I remember as if it was yesterday having really good bread for the first time. We took a trip to England and France when I was a Jr. in High School. And when we sat down to breakfast there were….were….hot rolls and BUTTER as an option. And this was England where I am not sure that they are known for their bread. I didn’t know that having hot rolls and butter was acceptable for breakfast. It wasn’t in my base of knowledge.

And then there was France. Mother of all that is HOLY! The angels sang and my gluten addiction was officially born.

But then we came back to the US of A and the gluten glow was lost, or at least temporarily banked. Oh I had a flirtation here and there with good bread. We passed like ships in the night, looking longingly at each other but never really making contact. There was the trip to Germany after college graduation (again with the Parental Units and Pilot Man). And I was re-introduced to my secret love…..rolls and butter AND cold cuts for breakfast. But really, that trip was all about the beer. The beer and trying to avoid eating anything suspicious. I wasn’t all that adventurous yet in the whole eating unknown foods department. But that is another story for another time. I am rambling. Mexico, yes that is where we are. I think…..

So, vacationing in Mexico with the in-laws I learned that I could have freshly baked bolillo with butter AND Pico de Gallo for breakfast. A bolillo slathered with butter and smothered with flaming hot pico is perfect. Breakfast cereal? What is that? The same thing applies to Peru where I can go to the local market and buy fresh rolls for breakfast. In fact that is what happens when we visit the in-laws.


I am sitting at the table waiting for Ruperto to bring the basket of rolls fresh from the bakery. Trust me it is worth the wait.

Where was I? I know I had a point? Does anyone remember where I was going with this?

Oh yes, bread. So Tuesday I had a bread breakdown. Bread! I needed bread! I needed good, chewy delicious bread. I looked down onto my cookbook shelves and there it was.Bread

Bread Alone by Daniel Leader. I don’t even remember when I bought this book. And it is certain that I have never even opened it…..until Tuesday.

I realized at that moment that I was going to bake something out of this book ASAP and that I am going to be baking through this book in 2013.

And I want to say that yesterday…..I produced the best loaf of artisan bread that I have ever produced in my ENTIRE life. And it was so much more work that throwing together the loaves I usually make. It is like that first sip of Great Lakes Brewing Dortmunder Gold when all you have ever drunk before is Miller Lite.

I started with the first recipe in the book and it took me 24 hours from start to finish.

Yes, I said 24 HOURS. And it isn’t because I didn’t know what I was doing. That is just how long it took to bake THE BEST LOAF OF BREAD I HAVE EVER MADE.

Make poolish – let poolish ferment for 15+ hours in the garage – bring poolish in and add more water and flour and yeast – knead the heck out of it, by HAND, no machine this time. Daniel said I should do it that way – let it proof – knock it down and let it rest – form the loaves (I need loaf baskets I have decided) – let the loaves proof and while that is happening let the oven and the baking stones heat up for an HOUR at 450F – gently dump the loaves out of their baskets and put them on parchment paper on the dough peel (yes I do have one of those) – slash the tops – slide the loaves onto the baking stones – give the oven a good spritz with water to make steam – close the door – wait 3 minutes – spritz again – bake 20 minutes – turn the temp down – bake 20 more minutes.

I am tired just writing that. But when I opened the oven door after 40 minutes I was stunned.

Stunned I tell you!! Because there was a loaf that looked like something that I would buy at an official bread store. And after it cooled and I cut into (one of the longest hours of my life) it was…..

It was…….

Well, all I can say is the Earth moved.

Daniel Leader you are my new bread guru.


  1. Mmmmmmm! Bread! Bread! Glorious bread!

  2. ohhh, jealous. I don't have the patience to bake bread all the time, but it is one of the few things that I think is worth the effort. Haven't done it in awhile, maybe in January.


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