It would be perfectly reasonable if you’d forgotten I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. The reason that’s reasonable is I’ve laid off writing about it recently, so let’s resume, shall we? Yes, we shall.
Recipes are so bossy. Do this, do this, they say and by the third do this, I’m shouting how it’s not the boss of me. Even so, I would like to learn about bread baking. I opened one of Dad’s Marcella Hazan cookbooks. Marcella sometimes looks down her nose at her readers anyway, so now we have this:
Tata: The whole wheat recipe says to make the olive oil loaf only substitute 1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour and about 3-1/4 cups AP flour. But the olive oil loaf recipe is written in Latvian and says 2 cups.
Tata: I don’t believe you!
Tata: Yeah? YOU read it.
Tata: What? No way! This was all your idea!
Tata: Omigod, really, genius? Remember that time you got the bright idea to –
Tata: WE’RE BAKING BREAD. Read the recipe!
Tata: The olive oil loaf recipe says to proof the yeast in part of the water and all of the sugar, but there are directions for using the food processor and mixing manually. I’m using the KitchenAid and where’s the rest of the directions?
Tata: Did you know printers now use whole pages on both sides and if you read about half an inch down the page you’ll find the answers to your many stupid questions?
Tata: I didn’t know that!
Tata: I think we should see other people. We’re spending too much time together.
It turned out the recipe was pretty simple after I quit arguing that it wasn’t. Yeast, water, sugar and less than half the flour mixture, mixed and kneaded, sat on a potholder on the dining room radiator for a three-hour rise. Later, I mixed in the rest of the flour, the remaining water, salt, olive oil and dried rosemary I grew and dried; after a good kneading, the rather large dough sat in the same warm spot for another three-hour rise. I shaped the loaf, more or less, for a short rise, shellacked it with water, then baked for 12 minutes at 450 and 40 minutes at 350. In retrospect, I should have left it in for another 5-10 minutes, but the texture is really pretty good. I’m overjoyed, really. Pete, that wiseass, said, “It’s the best bread you’ve ever baked. If you can do it again, you’ll really have something there.” We’ll see how sarcastic he is when I’m making him delicious bread sandwiches three meals a day.