Sunday, October 7, 2007
I got a beautiful new bread cookbook, Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking, in which she visits various bakeries around the country and then shows how to recreate their specialties. I told Jim that as a birthday present, I would bake him anything he chose from the book. He looked through it and chose Della Fattoria's (a small bakery in Petaluma, California) Rustic Roasted Garlic Bread. Petaluma is the town Jim and I chose years ago as the town where we were going to retire. We decided it was an affordable alternative to living in San Francisco. It's no longer affordable--we missed our chance--but we are still fond of it, and now we're fond of its bread.
Glezer lets you know whether the recipes are beginning, intermediate, or advanced. This one is advanced. I complained that he might have chosen an easier one, but he pointed out that I had made no conditions on my offer, so, after grumbling a while that it wouldn't be my fault if it turned out to be a dud, I set out to buy garlic--a lot of garlic.
One of the reasons the bread is "advanced" is that it takes at least three days--at least one to refresh the starter (I guess that calling for a starter is another reason for its being advanced), one to make the levain, and one to pull the whole thing together. I kept reading and re-reading the recipe, trying to figure out where you add the yeast, but I finally understood that there was no yeast--only a measly tablespoon of sourdough starter to make two loaves of bread. I didn't have enough confidence in my starter for that, so I added a quarter of a teaspoon of instant yeast. That seemed like enough to pump up the starter without really cheating. Here's another reason the bread is labeled "advanced": it takes a good half hour of mixing the dough in the KitchenAid before it comes together on the dough hook and becomes "very silky." Glezer says to forget about making this bread if you don't have a stand mixer.
After the dough turned silky, which it did, it still took about three hours for it to not quite double in size. Meanwhile, I roasted three big heads of garlic and made a puree with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then I divided the dough in half, shaped it into a round, and pressed it down. I spread half the garlic puree on each round of dough and sprinkled that with Asiago cheese. Then I pulled the edges over the garlic and cheese, turned it over, and shaped it into a round loaf. The instructions say to be careful here--if you shape it too much, it will explode during baking. (Probably all breads that threaten to explode during baking should not be considered recipes for beginners). Then I stuck another clove of garlic in the middle and decorated the loaves with sprigs of Italian parsley. (You're going to be very impressed when you see this picture).
Turned upside down into a banneton, the shaped and decorated breads had to rise for another three or four hours. By now, we're getting very hungry.
The bread looked and smelled so good that we couldn't wait more than 15 minutes to cut into it. I'm sorry to brag. It's not how I was raised. But I could not believe that I had made this incredible bread myself, so crusty, so delicious, with that layer of cheesy roasted garlic.
If you don't want to buy a copy of Glezer's cookbook and bake it yourself, you might consider a little trip to Petaluma, where you can buy the bread at the Della Fattoria bakery.