I have, admittedly, had trouble baking bread. After a couple of missed attempts, I now tend towards simple recipes that are somewhat fail proof.
I am grateful to Dave, my new friend who is quite the talented baker (and thinker, improver and eater) for offering me a lesson. So this past Saturday morning, he opened his kitchen (and his home, quite frankly, because Cherub tagged along and she explores just about everywhere) and gave me a course in bread baking 101 (he also fed me and Cherub lunch, natch, lucky us!).
I choose to tackle brioche. Because I mean, come on. Butter, eggs. In bread? It’s heaven. It makes the most fabulous toast. Not to mention French toast. But that’s another post.
As a result I have a few quick tips to share with wary bread bakers. I think the thing that I adored most about Dave was that he shared my culinary affinity for thrift. I save darn near everything for stock, transform leftovers into wholly new meals and transfer whatever’s left over for compost. It is my way. And Dave is kind of like this, too. In his own words, “It’s a great time to be a geek.” I couldn’t agree more.
Perhaps the most eye opening was the fix to my lack of a bread machine, which I was certain I needed, but was reassured by Dave that the only real reason to have one was to do the kneading. The genius solution? There are practically brand new ones at thrift stores for about ten bucks. What? But of course this makes perfect sense. You know there are millions out there who bought the bread machine, made bread twice and then a year later were annoyed that it took up so much space.
Another great simplifier is the electronic scale that can be had for about twenty bucks on Amazon. It makes your measuring much more accurate (in a way that is almost foreign to me as a casual cook), and your delicious results much more consistent.
We talked baguette as well as brioche and he told me the best thing to cook a baguette on was an aluminum grill topper. Available at home improvement stores for about six bucks for two, it’s thin and transfers heat quickly, while the holes allow for maximum air circulation around the loaf. Again, a stellar, inexpensive, flexible alternative to a $40 baguette pan.
I could sing Dave’s praises for many, many more paragraphs, but it was this post that made me really want to get to know him. He is a real treasure in this town, and if you live in Columbus, make a point to get to know him. You’ll be a better person for it.
Playlist included Magic, by B.o.B. ft. Rivers Cuomo.