Saturday, January 3, 2009

Let Us Break Bread

We were enjoying a snowy evening with our companions.

Until the emergency: delicious cheese and no bread. And you can't be with your companions and not have bread, by definition.

As Evelyn and I discovered a month or so ago the etymology of companion is:

Com(with) + pan(bread)

Companions are people you break bread with. But snow was coming down and no one felt like running to the store.

So we decided to make some bread.

My internet search turned up a no knead bread that takes 18 hours to rise.

No good. And an easy french bread. We made the french bread to have with our d'Affinois, Gruyere and des Clarines.

But the article on no knead bread was too intriguing:

“I’ll be teaching a truly minimalist breadmaking technique that allows people to make excellent bread at home with very little effort. The method is surprisingly simple — I think a 4-year-old could master it — and the results are fantastic.”

I set up a time to visit Mr. Lahey, and we baked together, and the only bad news is that you cannot put your 4-year-old to work producing bread for you. The method is complicated enough that you would need a very ambitious 8-year-old. But the results are indeed fantastic.

Part of the reason I was so intrigued is that I happen to have a very ambitious (when it comes to cooking) 8-year-old. As it turned out she was having too much fun with her companions to make bread.

The four year olds were also busy:

So my mom mixed the dough and set it aside to rise undisturbed for 18 hours. What with 5 kids and 6 adults here I think it was the only thing undisturbed.

Here is the dough with the bubbles on the surface that show it is ready to be formed.

Here it is coated with oat bran, a bit prematurely. I was supposed to fold it 3 times. Now it has to rise for 2 hours.

You cook it at 450 in a dutch oven. At least, you do if you read the instructions carefully. If you are me you cook it at 400.

The wet dough and cover are supposed to make for a good crunchy crust.

You uncover it for the last 15 minutes.

And here it is out of the oven! I made holes in the crust with my thumb taking it around to everyone and squeezing it to demonstrate the excellent crunch.

Our already pajamaed and toothbrushed little companions were so excited by its smell that they decided to try some and face teethbrushing a second time. It really was good and I am going to try it again and follow the directions better.

Just as I was finishing this post my brother's friend Christine was finishing up the dinner dishes. Christine turns on the disposal and it makes loud there is a spoon in here noises. Christine looks as though she is going to put her hand in without turning off the disposal. I start shouting Turn it off, turn it off!

Christine laughs. She was not about to grind her hand into mincemeat.

Greta, who is sitting next to me, says, "You were all aaah! aaah! fire drill! fire drill!"

I don't even know where she gets this stuff.

I say, "Greta you are so funny."

She says, "I'm not funny, I'm cool."

She is one cool almost 4 year old. And a great companion.

With or without bread.


gina said...

Very cool indeed. And when it comes to cooking, I could qualify as a very ambitious 8 year old ;) -so maybe I will try this bread.

Stefaneener said...

I made that and wasn't impressed, but I've seen it popping up all over the blogosphere (talk about words I could do without, but what else would you call it? The zeitgeist-o-sphere, which is what I feel like I run around in?) and it probably deserves another try. Maybe I'll mix some up and leave it in my refrigerator for a week. Mmmmmmmmm.

Christine said...

Greta is the funniest and coolest, almost four years old I know!!!

I am glad no one was hurt during the cleaning process :P