Trading French Bread for an Ironing Board…

Did I ever tell you I love my friends? I do. Obviously, who doesn’t? But I have an amazing collection of friends. Yesterday while ironing out my fabric for my skirt on my wee little ironing board, I decided to shout out on Facebook to see if anyone had a real ironing board they would be willing to trade for. At 4 pm I sent the message. At 8 pm, my former neighbor, R, had procured me one by posting the same shout out on her page. How amazing is that? I am trading her french bread for the board and meeting her on Tuesday. I started my pre-frement today.

wpid-20140209_081538.jpgusing the mother starter

wpid-20140209_081734.jpgshaggy mess

wpid-20140209_083144.jpgnow we’re behaving!

wpid-20140209_084701.jpgit looks small, but it will grow…a lot…

wpid-20140209_084847.jpghiding it under a towel, a personally crafted bread towel I might add.

Seriously though, I am thoroughly impressed. I figured an ironing board was a long shot. But my former neighbor, not only is she a freaking riot (I can’t wait to see her, honestly) she came through for me! Her and her husband were the best neighbors you could ever ask for. Even her kid, going through teenage years, was absolutely hilarious and well behaved. He’s in the Navy now and I wish him all the best. Now, I am not trying to illustrate them as a bunch of well meaning fuddy duddies. Oh, no, they were literally a riot. Her husband looks like Caption Spaulding. Not even pretending to be kidding you. When I hang out with them I usually spent most of the time trying not to pee myself laughing. They are crass, honest and good people. My favorite kind of people. You can’t buy that.

Some Updates:

Still getting over this cold! Boo! But feeling much better!

My romaine and celery¬†continue to do not a whole lot. Maybe I will plant them in the garden when it thaws. I’ve added another romaine butt and now three celery butts. They’re…doing stuff….

wpid-20140209_122454.jpgcan’t make a salad yet

The amaryllis is really kicking it into gear, thankfully!

wpid-20140209_122535.jpgpictured: not a slacker

And someone needs to tell my christmas cactus that it is not christmas…

wpid-20140209_122422.jpgpictured: certainly has no idea what month it is

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Ciabatta Poolish

Considering tomorrow that I will have ample time to bake, I decided I will make ciabatta bread. Ciabatta was the first serious bread I made. By serious, I mean technically difficult and requiring more effort than combine, knead, proof, bake. It’s a very wet dough and produces bread that is delicious, chewy and full of holes. Fantastic for sandwiches or dipping in olive oil or eating directly out of the oven with a guilty look on your face.

I first made it in my tiny apartment kitchen and I believe the whole process took (aside from the poolish) 4 or 5 hours. It was insane and delightful. I struggled to get it right and in the end, although the bread was absolutely wonderful, I felt it wasn’t quite there. I went back to my sandwich breads and tried other recipes.

I have been hesitant to try it again, remembering the way I had to mother hen the dough. It’s sticky, it’s wet, it’s hard to handle. Also, I have made other breads that are easier and produce just as tasty results. But, I’ve got a window of free time tomorrow and I have loads more experience. I will not post the recipe, as it is not mine and it would not be very becoming of me. So you’ll have to be satisfied with pictures.

Day 1:

The Poolish

wpid-20140116_081036.jpgafter it has been first mixed, if i recall correctly, it stays this delightfully sticky

It has to ferment for about 4 or five hours at room temperature and then it goes into the refrigerator. A poolish is a pre-ferment to get more flavor and texture from the final product. It gives the recipe a kick in the pants before it’s even made. As they usually take about 5 to 10 minutes to put together and then live in the fridge, I would never dream of skipping them. It’s all about planning ahead.

And while we wait, some important bread baking tips:

  • Always make one ugly loaf that you have to eat immediately so no one can see it.
  • I won’t judge you if you eat the bread before it’s cooled sufficiently

wpid-20140116_090706.jpgone hour in, i can’t help it, i have to peek

  • If no one sees you eat an entire baguette, it doesn’t count. Besides, to the victor the spoils?
  • Right????
  • RIGHT???????
  • If you’re gluten free, I am really, really sorry.

Anyway, here’s where we are at after four hours.

wpid-20140116_111615.jpgWOW IT IS SO DIFFERENT THAN THE LAST PICTURE, IS THAT A YEAST CELL WAVING A WHITE FLAG AT ME HOLY COW I MUST CALL THE GOVERNOR GET ME A PHONE PLEASE AND THANK YOU

It smells yeasty and wonderful! Can’t wait to bake it up tomorrow!