Saturday, September 1, 2007
I still had four pieces of pizza dough in the freezer.
I had made one soggy pizza and one perfect one (no photos of the perfect one, alas--it's like the one that got away). After baking two pizzas, it was clear to me that I should not use a pizza pan if I wanted a crispy bottom crust. And yet, when I made this third one, I foolishly put it on the pan again. Why? Well, I'd run out of parchment paper, and the topping was so lush with olive oil that I was afraid to put it on the baking stone. I knew what was likely to happen, but I convinced myself that soggy pizza bottoms were a thing of the past.
This pizza is so simple--one new potato, sliced as thinly as possible, about half an onion, also sliced very thinly, some fresh rosemary, and olive oil, all tossed together. Spread on the pizza dough and sprinkle with sea salt. No cheese, no sauce, no tomatoes. And it would have been perfect, too, if I had not ignored my inner voice saying, "Don't use the pan! Don't use the pan!" The edge was so perfect, so crisp, so crusty. Limp in the middle, however.
Remember, BAN THE PAN!
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Segale con Pancetta (Rye Bread with Pancetta)
I've grown to be very fond of Carol Field's The Italian Baker. It's probably my favorite, except for The Bread Bible, of course, which is, after all, a bible. But Field's breads are all very hearty and flavorful. This rye bread, studded with bits of pancetta, is no exception. It's about half-rye, half-white flour, which makes it very dense--really more like a whole-wheat bread than a rye. When I tasted this bread, I realized how much I associated caraway seeds with rye--this has no seeds, and, hence, it doesn't taste much like traditional rye bread.
I used my bread steamer, and, since I had two loaves to bake, I experimented. On the first loaf, I steamed for only five seconds and kept the lid on for 20 minutes. On the second, I steamed longer (15 seconds) but kept the lid on for only 10 minutes. They look quite different--the second one (to the right) got browner and the flour pattern from the banetton doesn't show as much, although I put equal amounts of flour in both. I put the second loaf in the freezer, so, as Jim pointed out to me, it wasn't much of a taste test, but there was no way I was going to cut up two loaves of bread for two people. I do have some sense of propriety.
This bread is excellent with gouda, goat cheese and Zinfandel, which is what we happened to have on hand.
I wasn't sure how it would toast, which is always my second criterion for bread, but I had some this morning with an egg. Very nice! It was like having a bacon and egg breakfast without the bother of cooking the bacon.
Monday, September 3
Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire
Monday's bread is from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart. This "extraordinaire" bread is supposed to be the new, improved version of his struan bread, which seems to be a favorite bread with everyone. Rose's version of struan bread, which she has on her blog, caused her to write to Reinhart that this bread made her proud to be a bread-baker. It's not a complicated bread at all--it just has a little cornmeal, rolled oats, and wheat bran mixed in with a basic white bread recipe. I think the "improved" part just involves mixing the grains the night before with enough water to moisten them. This is supposed to make excellent toast, but, as of Monday night, I haven't tried that version. Because the tomatoes are plentiful, and because of the promised splendid toast, BLT's seem to be in my future.
Here is what I learned about a three-day weekend. I can never retire! I baked (and ate) an insane amount of bread this weekend. Where I usually make one thing per weekend (manageable), I made three (messy and gluttonous). Work saves me from myself.