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Fred’s Bread

12 Mar

I can hear Fred gently calling to me from the dining room. I don’t know what he wants. I’ll probably never know. You see, Fred is a cat.

Handsome Devil

We discovered him lazing about in the sun when putting in the air conditioner yesterday, and he only disappeared when the sun went down. All day long he moved from dining room window to kitchen window and then back depending on where we were, gently miaowing in a friendly, conversational way while I baked bread. His handsome, fuzzy face was so distracting in fact, that he caused me to make some blunders in my loaf. Hence, Fred’s bread.

And how did this presumably stray cat get a name? I said something to the boy about fuzzy face, which made me think of Funny Face, which led me to think of Audrey Hepburn and of course Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s which led me to Fred . Et voila! A name is born. (I suppose Cat would have been a more logical name to chose from the movie, but inspiration doesn’t always strike perfectly).

Fred

A few weeks ago I was googling something random when I stumbled over this recipe. I was so excited. Crusty Croatian Bread? Yes! The bread in Croatia was amazing. There was something different about it. I kept conjecturing that it was possibly corn meal, but I could never find a recipe for any kind of Croatian bread that wasn’t a sweet, holiday-themed loaf until this one. I was a little disappointed to see nothing unusual in it however aside from the butter.

Last weekend I tried it out. I even found cake yeast and bought a scale to assure that I followed the recipe exactly. I whipped up a pot of fish soup (Shorbet el Samak to be exact) from my new favorite cookbook to have with the bread. I did everything perfectly. And how did the loaf turn out?

Meh.

Bad Bread

It was bland and featureless. The crust was a ditzy shade of blond. The crumb was alright but had no flavor. The boy, as always, said it was wonderful. Isn’t he great? It was actually pretty good when soaked in olive oil, and after it had gone stale it reminded me of the bread sticks from the Olive Garden (I’ll leave you to decide if that’s a compliment or not).

And so I spent the week tinkering with the recipe in my head. I would add more salt, a little sugar, some white whole wheat flour and some cornmeal, just to see what happens. I would follow the recipe in technique, but add some twists of my own with a dash of advice from Nigel.

That was the plan, and then Fred showed up.

I was so busy “talking” to him I completely forgot to cut the butter into the flour. Oops. Apparently that was not a crucial step (I added it in little chunks to the already mixed dough) and the loaf turned out AMAZING.

Perfect Bread

The crust is deeply golden, very slightly charred and yet a breeze to cut through. The crumb is perfect, moist and full of flavor. I can’t believe I nailed my own bread recipe on the first try. It must have been Fred.

Perfect Bread

And now speaking of Fred… I know nothing about cats as I’m incredibly allergic and have never had one. So, I’m asking you guys. Is he a stray? Just a wandering Tom? What should I do? Should I let him in, put him in a carrier and take him to a vet and try and find him a home? Should I feed him?

Fred

He’s obviously full of love. He kept rubbing up against the screen as if he wished it was someone’s hands petting him, but he would also claw at the window screen in a way that made me fear for our new sofa. The only time I’ve ever spent with cats was when I worked for the HSUS in high school, and those were all strays or abused and bit me and scratched me and sent me to the hospital numerous times (not good role models).

Is Fred pulling a Snowball II on me?

Head below the jump for the recipe for Fred’s Bread.
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