Monday, November 19, 2007
Daring Bakers on a "diet"
A pot of coffee and a daring baker challenge. My ideal day off
Yeasted delicacies are showing up on blogs everywhere, which can only mean the daring bakers are at it again with Tanna hosting this month's challenge. After October's bostini cream pie, which came in at a whopping 93 grams of fat and almost 1200 calories PER SERVING (thanks again Julius, I can't say that I really wanted to know about that. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss), myself and several other db's had our fingers crossed for something savory, and perhaps something we could eat a serving of without having to go buy new jeans. Tanna valiantly answered the call with Tender Potato Bread. Those who are carb conscience are rolling their eyes right now because I just said "potato" and "bread." Sorry...it's not my stupid diet. I for one, was ecstatic. Tanna was giving us creative freedom with this. She provided the recipe for the dough, advised that we make a loaf with half of it, and the rest should be used as a canvas to "unleash our inner daring baker." We were allowed to do whatever we wanted with it, so long as it wasn't sweet. Another rule: the dough had to be kneaded by hand. No mixers allowed.
As the db's started making this challenge and posting their results on our private blog, the overwhelming majority warned that this was a really sticky dough.
I consider myself to be pretty comfortable with bread making. I am by no means an expert, but running the wholesale bakery forced me to become familiar with it. Cinnamon rolls and hot cross buns were two of my biggest sellers, and I was also asked to make the ciabatta for the dinner theatre that I shared the kitchen with. Ciabatta is one of the stickiest, most difficult to work with breads out there, which is why it is always in that flat rectangular blob shape. I told myself that If I can handle ciabatta, I can handle this. Here's the thing though: I made the ciabatta in an enormous 60 quart mixer, and both the rising and forming was done on a big wooden bench. I'll admit it- the idea of kneading the sticky potato bread on my tiny formica counter top had me nervous. If anything the clean up that would be required was not something I was looking forward to. But, that is the whole idea of these challenges. Step outside your comfort zone. To me, artisan style bread making is not a big deal. Doing it at home without my mixer? SCARY.
Luckily, Tanna's recipe was really straight forward- and yes, the dough was sticky at first. But once you start kneading, it becomes the most fun thing to play with EVER. Sorry if I am grossing anyone out here, but the texture of the dough can only be described as old lady arm flab. It reminded me of going to visit my great aunt Charlotte and giving her a hug. The dough picks up just enough flour to hold together, but remains very soft and "blubbery."
I have kneaded dough by hand before, but it was not quite as slack as this one. Stiffer dough means your arms tire out quickly. I could have kneaded this dough all day. I forgot how much more satisfying it is to actually feel it come together.
One third of my finished dough became a rustic free form loaf, which I baked right on my pizza stone. The crust was crisp and the inside was tender and fluffy. It was delicious the next day as garlic toast for soup.
The rest became something that I usually make with plain buttermilk dough: cheddar ham rolls with sage. The dough is rolled out into a rectangle as if you were making cinnamon rolls. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar and chopped sage. Lay out slices of good quality deli ham, then sprinkle with more cheese and sage. Roll it up and slice off medallions. Bake them just like you would a cinnamon roll. We had them for dinner with a salad. How often does a daring baker challenge become two perfectly well rounded dinners? Um, NEVER. Thank you Tanna. This was a great choice after last months heart attack cream pie. If you would like the recipe for Tender Potato Brad, Tanna has it posted on her blog. To see all of the other amazing creations that resulted from this dough, head over to our blogroll. I know that is where I'll be for the next 3 weeks, as there are (last I checked, I'm sure there's more by now) now about 300 daring bakers across the globe!! Thats alotta dough!