Would I be a loser if I admitted that it is 10:45 am and I am laying — not in, but on top of — my bed, messing around on my computer? First of all, it is a Saturday, my day of rest. Second, I am nursing an illness. A cold. A manly/sexy low voice. Before the phlem, but after the aches. And I believe laying on my bed will improve my chances at a speedy recovery. Am I still a loser?
Dave says yes.
No worries. I have the self-esteem to weather that particular storm.
So, I’m writing. I love to write. I just don’t usually have the time… Oh boy… you’re in for a treat today!
Actually, I do worry how often clients end up on this particular site and wonder how it is that I manage to post ‘Meatless Monday X’ when they are still waiting for their project to be delivered. It’s a valid concern because it happens a lot. It’s psychology for another post; my need to procrastinate work until the last possible moment…
Anyway, enough of that depressing topic. I’ve been on a bread baking flurry. I used to only make it once a week, but I now seem to be on at least a 2x-a-week schedule. Plus, the first week of every month through June, I am committed to delivering an additional 12 loaves to two silent auction winners that bid on and won 8 months of bread deliveries. I just completed my fifth month and it has really made me feel the need to expand my repertoire. I tend to stick to my favored techniques and recipes, up on YouTube, that I can do it in my sleep. And yet…
I want and need more.
Not just because I worry about the bread auction recipient’s satisfaction, but because every once in a while, I come across a baguette that speaks to me. Unfortunately, I can’t exactly put my finger on what it is that is so different from my own bread. I’m not that skilled, I guess. So, I’ve spent the last hour on the internet reading about bread and looking at a couple newer books. Good Lord in Heaven. No wonder people are afraid of making bread. If you get caught up in the BS, it’s enough to make anyone cower: Hydration, crumb, retardation…
Now there’s a word that I can understand: retardation.
Oh forget it. I’ll just get in trouble.
What is the name of this post again?
I’ll try to bring it back around. Because of all the bread I’m baking, I had to re-visit Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman’s No-Knead Bread recipe in order to bring enough variety of loaves to the auction winners without spending an insane amount of time on new recipes. I tried the recipe when it first came out three years ago and thought it was sort of a pain in the ass, what with the pre-heating of the pan, the spastic flopping of the dough into the pan, etc. At the time, I had no knead of it. (ha ha. couldn’t resist).
However, since then, I had to start making loaf pan styles to satisfy Charlie’s desire for “Wonderbread” type bread. To be honest, I absolutely detest — DETEST — making bread in a loaf pan. Why? because I’m bad at it. Sometimes they rise too much, sometimes not enough. They make me feel like a failure. It makes me mad. Bread should not have the ability to ruin your day. I’ve slowly weaned him off the need for standard loaf bread in favor of ciabatta and the No-Knead Boules.
When I started making the No Knead Bread again though, it brought up this long-standing issue I’ve had with my Le Creuset Pans. And that is: why do mine always look like shit? Everywhere I’d read said that the No-Knead method was safe for Le Creuset, the exception being the black plastic knob on the lid, and even that was probably OK. Yet, taking mine out of the oven was always heart-wrenching. Discolored areas, finger marks baked on to the exterior. The interior dark and frightening. For crying out loud, was it only me? Why am I always ruining my pans?! Isn’t enameled cast iron supposed to be practically indestructible?
Every maddening cooking blog or TV show with Le Creuset shows these sparkling, gleaming pans. I’m willing to believe television cooks get new pans for their shows, but bloggers? How can it be that bloggers, who presumably cook a lot, can have perfectly new and shiny Le Creuset pans? Mine look like shit. [Sorry, I can't help but swear so much. It's a very emotional topic for me. Another inexplicable failure.]
I have used every trick in the book, on the internet and at the store. The only thing that can even come close to restoring my pan to a usable state after a particularly frisky pan-sear or oven tour is Bar Keepers Friend. But even with that, my pans are hopeless. They look like I’ve had them for 50 years — at least. I even replaced the first two that I received as wedding presents because I thought they were ruined. Now I just live with them, since the ‘new’ ones look just like the old ones I replaced. And I am now a miser which prevents me from frivolous expenditures.
No new pans for me. Well. No new Le Creuset Pans for me.
You see, in order to be able to peacefully make the No-Knead pot bread method without angst over ruining my bazillion-dollar pans, I decided to pick up an old enameled cast iron pan from an antique store. Problem was, I couldn’t find any around here. So I called my trusty parents in Hayward and had them go back to the place I got all my latest ones. They, too, were out! …the heck? On their second stop, they found a bountiful selection. After a tense phone call, fraught with impatience on my part — no, I don’t remember why; I’m always impatient — they selected a light blue one that I love. It’s slightly smaller than the 5-quart size recommended by Lahey for his bread. I like the smaller size because I find the bread rises up more than out. The interior is crazed/crackled, but it really doesn’t matter. I cleaned it all up nice. I just love it.
But just to illustrate what happens to me, when I cook the bread, this is what it looks like when it comes out of the oven:
I have to wonder who else suffers this pan-wrecking affliction?
I also have to wonder how other food bloggers keep their pans looking so perfect?
Baking soda, salt and vinegar?
Isn’t that the recipe for those exploding volcanos?
I’ll stick to Bar Keepers Friend.