I\’m not sure if it\’s possible to write about bread and make it exciting, or, for that matter, make it remotely not-mind-numbing, but here goes. A couple Jesusmases ago, the Geester and I received The Bread Bible as a gift (get it? Jesusmas? Bread Bible? Sigh.) Now, you would think a book bold enough to call itself The Bread Bible—the holy book of bread, the first, last, and only tome you need to join flour, water, yeast, and heat into the mother of all comfort foods—would thoroughly exhaust every imaginable facet of its subject matter. You would think? Well, you would think right. Weighing in at 640 pages, this monster is equal parts Alton Brown and Ana Gasteyer\’s character Margaret Jo McCullen from Delicious Dish, the SNL parody of NPR. You know what I\’m talking about. Schweaty Balls? Yeah, that one.
The reason I make the Alton Brown reference is Rose Levy Beranbaum goes all the way down to the science of what is happening during each step in the process. There are no colorful props made of spray-painted foam and/or garden hose dangling from the ceiling, but the explanations are very thorough. She also breaks the whole bread process down into ten essential steps and gives clear instructions as to what equipment you should have on hand if you want to execute at a level anywhere above helmet-clad-retard-with-sister\’s-easy-bake-oven. For instance, in most recipes, Beranbaum comes right out and tells you at what speed your KitchenAid mixer should be set for each step. Oh, you don\’t have a KitchenAid mixer? I suppose you could just use your hands like an asshole. Don\’t forget to wear your helmet.
I avoided this book for a long time because it contains long strings of instructions that read like this:
1. Mix A, B, C, and D. Let stand at room temperature for an hour and then refrigerate for 8 – 24 hours.
2. Knead for 8 minutes. Let rest for 20 – 400 minutes.
3. Leave your kitchen for a week.
4. Place dough in dough-rising container. Allow to rise until double in size. Approx. one moon.
5. Knead air bubbles from dough. Throw dough away and return to step 1.
It\’s not that any of the individual steps are at all difficult, it\’s that I don\’t have whole weekends to devote to uninterrupted bread fabrication.
That is, until Gia became couch-bound-on-neoquaaludes and I found myself with a batch of (highly perishable) spent grains from brewing. I spent part of Sunday afternoon and Monday evening following Barenbaum\’s instructions to a T including the overnight prefermentation of the dough sponge, etc, etc. And now that I have spewed forth almost 500 words about bread, I will put a sock in it in favor of two pictures of the finished specimens. Behold, the ten-grain torpedo featuring spent brewing grains (Maris Otter, Crystal 60L, Chocolate, Black Patent) instead of the pre-fab ten-grain mix from the recipe. Carbs rule: