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The Best Thing Ever To Come Out Of My Kitchen

21 Nov

Well, there she is, the best thing ever to come out of my kitchen, and she’s a loaf of bread.

No-Knead Bread

Yes, yes, she may be a bit of a band-wagon-jumping-loaf, every food blogger out there worth his or her salt has made this loaf, the famous Minimalist’s no-knead loaf, but, to me, and to my loaf, it was a massive triumph.

I have left countless comments on countless blogposts about pastries and breads saying, “Oh man, that looks so good! I wish I could make that but, well, I can’t bake!” Now I know that’s a lie.

So, to other bake-o-phobes out there, it’s okay! Jump in! Join the no-knead party! It’s easy, it’s kinda fun and it’s oh so very, very gratifying and best of all, heavenly smelling and possibly the most delicious thing you’ll ever make with your own two hands and then scarf down greedily, leaving crumbs for Mr. Mouseypants. Yes, it’s that good.

No-Knead Bread

I started my loaf on Friday night, using 2 cups all purpose white flour and 1 cup white whole wheat flour. I doubled the salt and added a packet of Sugar In The Raw borrowed from the boy’s office. For those on the hunt for instant yeast, I got mine at Trader Joe’s. It says “Perfect Rise,” but after some pow-wowing with my bread-expert friend Virginia, we concluded it is the same thing as the red Saf-Instant so favored by professional bakers.

I let it rise for exactly 18 hours. It was spongy and full of air holes and smelled pleasantly yeasty and it was sticky, but you know what? Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty! I tipped it out onto a well floured board, shaped it as well as I could, covered it with saran wrap and let it sit 15 minutes.

Then, just like the directions say I folded it a few times and placed it on a towel I had strewn with cornmeal. Now, here’s where I should have actually read ahead in the directions… I wanted the cornmeal on the bottom and flour on the top, so that’s what I did, cornmeal on the bottom towel, flour on the top. Ah, no Ann, you should have done the exact opposite! You see, when you plop the dough into the pot, you flip it over. Doh! Oh well, next time!

No-Knead Bread

From there everything went exactly as the recipe states. I pulled her gorgeousness out, let her sit, and then dug in. The first slice I ate with butter. The second with ajvar. And the third piece with Eldress Hall’s Tomato Soup. It was heaven. Pure, simple, minimalist culinary heaven.

And where was the boy during all this? Visiting family in Colorado. In fact, I was so blissed out on bread that I started a second loaf that very same evening so he could enjoy it fresh and warm from the oven when he arrived home. And what became of that loaf? Well, that’s kind of a sad tale actually.

No-Knead Bread & Shaker Tomato Soup

Sunday morning our sleepy heroine climbed out of bed, searching desperately for her slippers. It was a cold, gray morning. Slippers on, arms wrapped about her body for warmth, she padded into the kitchen to check her bread dough, which had spent the night silently slumbering on the shelf above her stove. Still groggy she chose not to use the step ladder, confident she could reach that high.

Fortunately, she saved her dough, unfortunately, she dropped her large, heavy cutting board onto her stove. Immediately an odor of gas consumed our heroine, but her nose was so stuffy, she just wasn’t sure. Were the odors real? Were they imaginary? She couldn’t tell.

After a few minutes, she couldn’t stand her paranoia anymore so she went out for a walk. Upon arriving home, she thought the odor was still there, but again, wasn’t sure. So off she set for another Brooklyn amble. This time upon arriving home, she was sure she could smell something, so again she left her humble abode and called the only person that would know what to do, her mom.

Mom said call the FDNY. Our heroine balked. What if the firemen forced everyone to evacuate the building? All her neighbors would hate her! In her infinite mom wisdom her mother replied “They’ll hate you more if you blow up their apartments!” Ah, logic…

So call the FDNY she did, and they came. One nice man ventured up to the 4th floor with our heroine. Upon entering the apartment his estimable sniffer went into overdrive, “Yes ma’am, you’ve got a leak in here, you did the right thing.” He called down to the truck, three more men made the four-floor ascent, one carrying a thingy that looked and sounded like something from Ghostbusters.

Areeeeeeeeeearoooooooooooareeeeeeeeeeeem! It went.

What does that mean our heroine asked? Mr. Mustache said, “That there’s gas in here ma’am, you’ll have to step outside.” And so into her tiny, tiny kitchen four rather large men with tanks on their backs wedged themselves in, breaking many things along the way. But they turned off the gas and all was safe again.

The firemen told our heroine she was going to have to get a new stove. This made her very, very sad as she knows how slow to act her landlord can be. Visions of eating out every night for weeks on end brought the shimmer of a tear to the corner of our heronie’s limpid hazel eyes.

But an hour later the ConEd guy showed up and determined that the leak had probably been fixed when the firemen clamped the valve shut. He ran tests, lit matches and declared emphatically that all was, yet again, well, and that our heroine could continue to bake and cook to her heart’s content.

The only problem? In her deep sadness our heroine had thrown away her bread dough.

So the moral of the story? Even in real life tales of woe, sometimes, all’s well that ends well. So don’t be too hasty in throwing away that slow-rise dough!