Saturday, May 3, 2008
Since I started baking, I've learned that the search for new recipes is divided into two categories: buttermilk and non-buttermilk. The buttermilk search is for when you have a half-used quart of in your refrigerator and MUST USE IT UP. Non-buttermilk is when you're free.
Buttermilk servitude is not the worst thing in the world. Most things you bake with buttermilk end up being pretty good. Still, would it really hurt to make it available in one-cup cartons? It's not like most people just glug it down.
So I got out The Bread Bible, and looked in the index under "buttermilk," where I found potato buttermilk bread. I was about to ignore it because, though I had buttermilk, I had no potatoes, butI remembered that it took potato flour instead of cooked potatoes. And I still had some potato flour. I heard Rose's voice asking me how old the potato flour was, but I ignored the voice because I didn't want to think about it. (I'm at the age where I feel a lot of empathy for anything or anybody that's considered too old. It's the only reason I'd think of voting for John McCain).
Ha! The too-old flour came through just fine.
This bread is pretty simple, but it does take some time, mainly because the biga needs to be made either early in the morning, or, preferably, the night before. Since I forgot to make it the night before, I was able to hurry things along just a little by using the "proofing" cycle on my beloved Wolf oven. I set it at 85, and it stays cool enough that I can put my plastic proofing bucket into the oven with no fears, but it's just enough warmer than my kitchen (in early May anyway) so that I don't have to worry about lagging dough. And we had the bread in time for dinner.
Usually, I prefer to have bread be the main course because it usually outshines whatever else we're having anyway, but I had dinner all ready to make so the bread had to play second fiddle. Since it was chewy, flavorful, and delicious, it didn't play the runner-up part all that well. I had a slice later that night with a glass of wine, and it was excellent. This bread has a much finer texture than the kind of bread you usually get in this kind of free-form round loaf, but it was a nice change. I hope my elderly flour is up to making one more loaf.