...baking, that is. Exact measurements, ideal conditions...all hopefully leading to a gorgeous, crusty on the outside, light and airy on the inside loaf of bread to come out of the oven. Have I mentioned that I was never a fan of science in school? I was a much bigger fan of literature and art. Maybe that's why I still haven't baked a loaf of bread that I've been totally happy with. Sure, there's that photo of a nice looking boule I made last year in the header of this blog (right up there!). I can do pretty darn well with scones, cookies, cupcakes, muffins and cakes. But bread....bread is elusive to me.
I had such high hopes for today's attempt. Armed with a brand new bag of flour, I was determined to knock it out of the park. Greek Olive Bread....how could it go wrong? It would have one of my absolutely favourite things in it....oil-cured olives. Wrinkly, briny, oily and oh-so-good. Half an onion. I imaged the crust snapping loudly when I put a blade to it, still steaming from the oven heat. Slathered in butter...it would be beyond delicious.
My first hint that something was amiss was how hard it was to knead. Not just because I was trying to incorporate both the olives and chopped onions; it was unyielding, fighting my hands at every turn. I managed to get it to a point where I thought it was acceptable to let it rise. Fast-forward an hour and a half. I looked into the plastic wrap-covered bowl. It wasn't pretty. But it rose, so I thought...well, maybe it won't be too bad. Usually after its risen, it's malleable enough to give it a good punch or two and I can knead it a bit more. Nope. Not this time. Barely was I able to work my fingers through the dough again. I managed to make two slightly larger than softball sized loaves and let them bake away for 40 minutes. They baked to a lovely golden brown, speckled with olives. I even tapped one and heard the hollow thump that recipes say you'll hear. When I cut one of the loaves open, it wasn't light and airy. It was doughy and a bit dense. It's not bad...it's just not good. I'm tempted to take the one I haven't sliced and bat it around. Or, had I thought about it, I could have made them golf-ball sized. Then I'd be able to pack them into a big ole Ziploc bag, grab my golf clubs, head over to the driving range and whack the crap out of them. Hell, at least my swing would get some practice.
I will perfect this bread-baking skill. I didn't buy a 10-lb bag of flour for nothing.
|That's them. Not too pretty.|
From Modern Greek: 170 Contemporary Recipes from the Mediterranean by Andy Harris
Happily, if you want to try it yourself, you can find the recipe in Google Books.