Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review (?) & Pain Au Levain

Okay, maybe it's a stretch to say that this is a book review. I only made one recipe from it. But, I've discovered a new way to "preview" cookbooks: check them out from the library! It's perfect. I can pour over the recipes, decide on one or two to try and use those experiments as a measure of whether it's a cookbook I want to buy. Of course, so far, of the 5 cookbooks I've checked out from the library, I want them all. Anyway.

This is the book:

I've been hearing and reading a bit about using a cold fermentation process for bread dough. It makes it possible to spread the bread making process over several days rather than setting aside an entire day for rising, etc. (because, who has an entire day anymore?!). There are several books out there that use this method and this is the first I've tried. The thing is, for me, spreading the process over several days means that I spend EVERY HOUR of each of those days obsessing about what I'm supposed to do next. Three days thinking about bread with only working on the dough for (at most) an hour each day...I don't know if that trade-off works for me. Maybe it gets easier once you're used to the method and you can just work it into your weekly routine.

That criticism aside, this bread was unbelievably delicious. And incredibly easy. I used my own sourdough starter (thank you, John Graham for this piece of you that CAN'T move out of state). It's a little more loose than the starter in the book, which meant making small, but simple adjustments in the amount of flour I used. A Pain au Levain is a lot like San Francisco sourdough. I think the only difference is the addition of a small amount of whole wheat or other multigrain flour (I used rye). This gives it a little heartiness, a little color, a little texture. I love it. Not that I don't still have a giant place in my heart for San Francisco sourdough. But this was probably one (2) of the best (and most beautiful) loaves of bread I've ever made. Chewy outside, not too soft inside. Nutty, hearty, sour. We used it for panini sandwiches (filled with herbed turkey breast, thinly sliced apple, avocado, and gouda) and it was so so good. Sometimes homemade food IS actually better than what you can get at a restaurant/deli. Okay, sometimes it's always that way.

TGIP Rating--Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day--Judging on this recipe alone, I will most likely buy this book. There's one other book that uses cold fermentation that I want to try first.

Next up: Oy. Apparently I'm gun-shy of the hand pies. I am. It's the same but different and I feel like I really need to gird up my loins to move forward with making them. I don't want to use any of the recipes I've seen because they're not mine. I want to use my pie dough recipe and my filling recipes, but I think the filling will need to be altered a little. Anyway, it is eluding me right now. I need a little time to work up my courage--maybe I'll do it in June. In the meantime, BAKED Sunday Mornings has the Orange Creamsicle Tart up next on their schedule. I'm all over that.

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