Amy's Rustic Italian Bread
Dried Fruit and Walnut Bread
I recently tried the Rustic Italian Bread recipe on the Amy's Bread website. It's kind of pretty isn't it? Look at those big holes--oh. Yeah, it's just too bad that my bread is so damn salty it could be used as a murder weapon on someone with even moderately high blood pressure.
Gargh. What makes it more aggravating than the other failures in the past is that this bread took forever--or at least I made it take forever--to prepare. I wanted to experiment with using infinitesimal amounts of yeast paired with very long rising times: would the yeast be strong enough to ultimately raise the bread? Would the flavor have more depth? The answer to the former question is yes. The answer to the latter is I sure as hell can't tell because every time I try to take a bite, the only thing I'm aware of is a painful burning sensation in my mouth from the angry sodium assault.
The cause of the problem I suppose is that the recipe calls for kosher salt--something I didn't notice. I just used the regular, fine stuff. I guess it makes a SUPERHUGE difference.
Now I'll present my results on the yeast. Warning: most people's eyes will likely start to glaze over from here on, so you really don't have to read this following part if you're not interested in yeast. The recipe asks for 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast for the sponge starter; instead I used 1/16 teaspoon. I then put the starter in the fridge to slow things down even more, left it for 24 hours, and then took it out to finish rising, which took another 24 hours.
Is it just me, or is there something about the sight of a happily bubbling starter that makes the heart go "awww" the way some people coo at the sight of a baby? Okay, just me then.
I then made the final dough, which calls for 3/4 teaspoon yeast; instead, I used about 1/8 of a teaspoon. Quick knead, into a tupperware, and then the fridge. After almost a week, the dough had risen just a teeny bit. Again, took it out to finish rising. After about eight hours, the dough had big bubbles coming out the top (it was an extremely wet dough). And yes, when I finally baked the loaves, they rose with no problem and the finished texture, at least, was lovely.
One thing: the first time I took the bread out after baking, the crust was quite brown but soft. I put the loaves back in the oven, baked them for ten extra minutes, and then left them in the oven with the heat turned off for about five minutes. This made all the difference, and I got a nice, crusty crust. Too bad I have no desire to eat my nice, crusty bread, and I'm the one in the house who eats everything nobody else wants.