If at first you don’t succeed…

…get pissed off, pitch a hissy fit, throw it in the trash, and wait 6 months before you try it again.

For me, baking the perfect loaf of bread (specifically crusty, artisan bread) has been as elusive as size four skinny jeans.

It’s so frustrating because I’m a pretty good baker.  I regularly have success making a variety of baked goods such as cakes, cookies, banana bread, pizza dough, even homemade pie crust for pete’s sake!  But bread. 

***sigh***

What prompted my desire to make bread again after my last colossal failure?  We went to eat at Romano’s Macaroni Grill Friday night.  The bread there is so delicious.  We devoured the first mini loaf before the server even brought my glass of wine.  I kept thinking, “Women have been making bread for eons – without the help of modern technology.  Surely with the help of a mixer, double oven, and every sort of kitchen gadget known to man, I can make one decent loaf of bread in my lifetime.”  So since I had some time over the weekend, I decided to give it one more try.

This is the book I’ve been trying to follow…

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…but quite frankly it’s just too freakin’ complicated.  So the first thing I did was scour the web for recipes and came across a You Tube video of a gal making Ciabatta bread. 

By the way, can I just say how much I love You Tube.  If there is something you want to know how to do, I’ll bet you there’s video.  Paper scrapbook flowers – you bet.  Ciabatta bread – got it.

Anyway, I was encouraged that her method was similar to the process I was trying learn and that I was pretty much on track.  The thing with artisan breads (like Ciabatta) is that they are incredibly wet and sticky and very difficult to work with.

Leave it to me to pick the absolute most difficult bread to make.

Watching her technique, I noticed that a) she barely handled the dough and b) left it alone without obsessively, compulsively checking every five minutes to see if it’s rising.

So I tried it again Saturday afternoon (using what I had learned from her video) and was pretty pleased with how it turned out.

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It had a nice brown crust

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and a few irregular holes inside.

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So what was different this time around?  I have no idea except that I had other things to do and gave it plenty of time to rise.  Fascinating! Giving something time and space to do what it naturally does with absolutely no help from me.  What a concept!

I’ve improved enough so that I’m willing to give it another go in the foreseeable future.  I think if I could figure out how to shape it without deflating it so much, I could get the big, beautiful holes that Ciabatta bread is known for.  And if I had left it in the oven a  longer the crust would have been better too.  Patience, Kelly.

But at least it’s not a total loss and I am very encouraged.  And it tasted pretty good too! 

Oh wait…that’s the whole point isn’t it?

And most likely the reason I’ll never wear size four jeans.

Peacefully Patient, Kelly

P.S. Here’s a link to the You Tube Ciabatta video.  Her blog is really funny too – http://jenmenke.com/.

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About Minding My Nest

wife, mom, not-so-empty nester.
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One Response to If at first you don’t succeed…

  1. jenmenke says:

    Awesome! Now go try the baguette recipe. It’s even easier and even more bulletproof. I swear, learn to make these simple breads and people will fall to their knees at your feet. I keep telling them to make it themselves. –That it so easy. But then again, it IS nice to have people worship you, so it’s a win-win either way. Here’s the link to the baguettes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0fo5dD-clI
    My new endeavor is the technique in “artisan bread in 5 minutes a day” — sort of a no-knead on demand kind of thing. My biggest hurdle is figuring out my new oven. It changes everything… anyway, good job and thanks for the plug! keep my posted on your results. –Jennie

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