Monday, February 25, 2008
As I mentioned, Kim Ode, a writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and avid bread baker, is hosting a series of events about cookbooks. The first panel was about bread cookbooks, and I was asked to talk about, not surprisingly, The Bread Bible. Kim Ode reviewed Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and Will Powers, member of the St. Paul Bread Club, filled in for Solveig Tofte, who had to bow out because she was in training for the Bread Olympics; he discussed Peter Reinhart's new book on whole grain breads.
The event turned out to be great fun, and we had a knowledgeable and enthusiastic audience, including, to my delight, my faithful reader Jini.
All of us brought bread for the audience to sample. I ended up deciding to bake two kinds in case one of them didn't turn out. Of course, I didn't want to embarrass myself by showing up with some ugly, tasteless bread, but I also wanted to do right by Rose's recipes. I had to try my nemesis, the rosemary focaccia, which is no longer my nemesis. Each stage turned out perfectly: the soupy mixture turning into a ball after 20 minutes of beating, and the ball becoming a stretchy mixture resembling smooth, creamy melted mozzarella:
Best of all, the mozzarella/dough miraculously became transformed into a beautiful, brown, chewy rosemary focaccia. I even remembered to dimple deeply before sprinkling on the rosemary and the salt.
Jim thought it didn't have quite enough salt on it to be perfect, but I say Rose herself would have nodded approvingly at this bread. As it turned out, I wouldn't have had to do the backup bread because I was so pleased with the focaccia, but I'd already started a chocolate-almond kugelhopf, which required the purchase of some new almond paste because I misplaced the last tube I bought. (No, I don't know how it's possible to misplace almond paste).
I was feeling pretty invincible after the successful focaccia, and I loved the feel of the kugelhopf dough. It rolled out easily and I was confident of another success when I shaped it and smoothed on the filling without trouble.
Unfortunately, it wasn't quite long enough to let me double the ends over each other, so it ended up looking a little peculiar.
This is not, I'll be the first to admit, a perfect kugelhopf. It's quite imperfect. I decided I would take just one bread after all, and so I cut open the kugelhopf to give Jim and Sarah a piece.
But look how pretty! And so delicious!
As Jim was about to cut himself a second slice, I grabbed the knife away from him, and told him he couldn't have any more. It occurred to me that I could cut slices and arrange them prettily on a platter. No one would have to know that they came from imperfect bread.
I passed around both breads to oohs and aahs. People admired the focaccia, but there's nothing like chocolate, is there? The kugelhopf platter was completely denuded by the time it made the rounds, and poor Jim felt that his lovely little chocolate bread had been wrested away from him to feed a bunch of strangers, and Jini, too, but she was no longer a stranger.
The next Edesia cookbook review will be at the Galleria Barnes & Noble on Monday, March 24. It will be spring by then, and a perfect time to talk about Mediterranean cooking, which will be the topic. I plan to be there--in the audience this time, and, I hope, sampling some Mediterranean recipes and maybe adding to my cookbook collection.