Disclaimer, I’m a history enthusiast. That said, I’m a huge fan of the Russian Revolution. Wait, that didn’t come out right, I’m not a fan of the social collapse and deaths and what not… oh why bother explaining. Point is I’ve read enough about it. When I was reading A People’s Tradegy I used to joke that the revolution had started because of loaf of bread (bread riots), and what loaf of bread must have been. And how couldn’t it be a reason for the masses to rise up in discontent? On another hand you have the French, for whom the baguette is synonym of national identity; another revolution where bread was a key player. I strongly recommend you to read this post When Food Changed History.
I think that making bread is a fine craftsmanship, one that I intend to master. It’s a powerful feeling when one does good bread and its only comparable to those made at a small french or italian bakery.
So I have this losing streak with baking bread that was driving me insane. I had failed twice already so when a friend sent me an email requesting me to try a recipe of a Garlic Cheesy Bread I humbly accepted the challenge, almost feeling defeated before starting.
Yeast, water, honey, proofing, all’s good so far. Kneading the dough by hand, awesome. I’m feeling somewhat excited. One hour of rest, double its size. I can’t see how this could go wrong now. Right.
Make a baguette looking loaf, skip the twist (I’m not as pretentious, at least not yet), stop bothering the bread and let it rest 30 more minutes. At this point it’s almost been two hours of the whole process. In the oven for twenty minutes.
Out comes a pale wannabe baguette. Sigh. Butter, lots of butter (as required), six more minutes in the oven. Still pale. It looks like a tourist in my warm Caribbean kitchen. “Maybe it tastes good” I try cheering myself up. To my surprise it did. On hindsight I wouldn’t take out the air of the dough. Baguettes are supposed to be airy not compact.
Fifteen minutes cool down, I needed that too. I was starting to be frustrated. Some knife cuts, some cheese slices and 4 minutes in the oven again. At this point I’m thinking whatever has garlic and cheese tastes good, eatable at least, 10 points higher than if it didn’t. The bread is finally done, it tastes good but expectations vs. reality was a bummer. I had created this magnificent loaf of bread in my head, with magical powers granted by the garlicy butter and the cheese, that in the end was just bread with cheese on it. But I’ll take a win where I can.
In the future I don’t think I’ll be doing this recipe again. Next week, I’ll go back to either with Jacques Pepin’s New Complete Techniques (here on forth: Jacque’s NCT) or the CIA’s Professional Chef.