Sunday, July 15, 2007
I've had a hankering for green olive bread ever since I saw it at a bakery in Vancouver. I've intended to bake it for the last few weeks, but each weekend has been miserable--the kind of weather that makes you understand that "warm" is much too soft and cozy a word to describe global warming; that it means the weather could be godawful: hot, humid, and tropical. And this is Minnesota.
But this weekend the weather was wonderful, and it didn't feel sinful to turn on my oven, so I did. I used Rose's olive bread recipe, except that I substituted green olives (a combination of Sicilian, Picholine, and Cerignola) instead of black olives. Also, as I've been doing since I got my starter started, I add a glop or two of starter to the dough. I don't know how much difference it makes, but it doesn't do any harm.
On Saturday, I shaped a boule in my new banetton and baked it in the SteamMaker. A boule is supposed to have less of a blast of steam than a baguette, and more time under the metal cover than a baguette. This supposedly makes a crust that is crisp, yet chewy, rather than the baguette's shatteringly crisp crust. I didn't get my blast of steam immediately because Jim, who is in charge of the steam, wasn't ready when the bread was. I still have no complaints about the bread. We went to our friends the Millers' house for dinner, and brought a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. The bread was more popular than the wine.
Today we needed a celebratory loaf of bread to go with the lovely French champagne we got to celebrate Sarah's graduation from college. As we like to say, she took the scenic route toward graduation, and, even though it took slightly longer than the traditional four years, she did it her own way, and cheers to her, I say. I decided to make a torpedo-shaped loaf in my new La Cloche Italian-bread baker. The olive bread does very well in this shape as well, and it popped right out of the floured La Cloche.
The bread baked in La Cloche may not get quite as golden brown as the one baked without it, but the texture may be slightly better, although it may also just be that this size is easier to slice than a round loaf. To go with the champagne, we got a few of Sarah's favorite snacks--Cambozola cheese and mascarpone with smoked salmon. James, Sarah's boyfriend, also dropped by and helped us celebrate. Sarah and I are very taken with our new game: if you had to change your name to anything other than what it is now, what name would you choose? Sarah and I keep changing our minds, as we think of new considerations. For some reason, Jim and James both think it's silly, and respond by saying, "But I like my own name and I don't want to change it." But by the time we'd downed the champagne and eaten the last crumb of bread, even they were feeling expansive enough to get in the spirit of the game.