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!


11 Responses to “The Best Thing Ever To Come Out Of My Kitchen”

  1. Virginia November 21, 2006 at 11:16 am #

    So when are you baking the “thank-you” loaf for the firemen?

  2. Luisa November 21, 2006 at 11:26 am #

    oh my GOD – what a horrible thing to have happen! poor you. i’m glad everything’s taken care of. bread dough is certainly easier to replace than a stove… ;)

  3. bloglily November 21, 2006 at 3:41 pm #

    Ann — you are a Bread Goddess! (Sorry about the other little misstep, but I can see it’s not going to keep you down for long.) I can’t wait to make bread and tomato soup for our post-thanksgiving meal! xo, BL

  4. ann November 21, 2006 at 7:23 pm #

    hee Virginia, I never even thought about that!

    Luisa – the ConEd guy told me I did the wrong thing in calling the FDNY actually, he said I should have called them first, unless I thought I was in mortal peril, so, if you ever smell gas, dial 1.800.75.CONED first! Saves on the embarassment factor to boot!

    BL – I hope your sons love the bread and soup, its a really good kid soup!


  5. Julie November 21, 2006 at 10:53 pm #

    She’s a beaut.

    And I don’t know anything about ConEd guys but it’s a well-known fact that FDNY has a high percentage of cute guys. Not that that should be a factor in anyone’s decision about who to report gas leaks to. I’m just saying.

  6. farmgirl November 22, 2006 at 7:56 pm #

    You most certainly can bake! A gorgeous loaf. My first attempt at this recipe is rising as I type this. Ahhhh, there is nothing that compares with freshly baked bread!

    P.S. Glad the gas leak story had a happy ending. Well, except for the ditched dough, of course. : )

  7. Tim November 23, 2006 at 2:41 am #

    Hey if that is the first loaf you have baked you have done seriously well. It looks, well, very loaf like! Sounds like a perfect match with the tomato soup too. Your gas leak story reminds me of my exploding elements on my electric stove. Quite simply – I turned them on and they exploded – one after the other they exploded with a mighty flash of light, an enormous puff of smoke and plunged me into darkness. We now have new elements! Good luck with the new stove.

  8. sher November 24, 2006 at 11:02 am #

    That bread rocks!!!!!! The crust looks FABULOUS! I’m so sorry about your mishap. That had to be quite stressful–and I think your mom showed the right logic–your neighbors would prefer that the building not blow up! :):) Hugs!

  9. lee November 26, 2006 at 11:57 pm #

    I like the looks of it better with the cornmeal on top!

  10. ann November 27, 2006 at 8:24 am #

    Julie — yeah, ConEd guys, not so hot, but FDNY, yes, you are sooooo right! There’s one house I can no longer walk past b/c I had such a crush on one of the firemen, and one day I was in the grocery store, looking at baby tomatoes, and his house came in. He came over to me and said hi. I panicked, dropped the ‘maters, tried to run, but ended up ass over teakettle b/c I slipped on a tomato. soooooo embarassing!

    Farmgirl — can’t wait to see your loaf! my second one finally got baked and was delicious too!

    Tim — i had NO idea that could happen with an electrci stove!! how frightening!!!

    Sher — i hate it when my mom’s right ;-)

    lee — i concur… i used it top and bottom on my second loaf and it was awesome!

  11. gerda [dinner for one] December 14, 2006 at 1:57 pm #

    i used to be afraid of yeast! i never EVER thought i could make bread in my kitchen. and now that i am making my 4th loaf, i am experimenting with different flour and other ingredients, various rising times – even up to 24 hours, because i had a problem with my oven too (not as dramatic as yours though!).

    while i am still addicted to dark austrian bread, the no-knead bread is pretty darn good and without a doubt motivating me to try out other bread recipes.

    i think you are totally right on this one: pure, simple, minimalist culinary heaven!

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