Perhaps this is actually a food photography blog, and no one told me.
Here, a trilogy of summer bread-baking notes. First, corn grits make for a beautiful, stew-dipping texture.
This boule was baked in the 7-qt Le Creuset (or, rather le 7-qt creuset?), because when you have a pot like that, you use it for everything.
Second, a few method tips, in part via Ruhlman’s blog and frivolous but lovely ipad app. First (and this from multiple sources), I now just throw the yeast into the mixer with the first run of dry ingredients. I’m not sure why I lamented over 105-deg water and a spoonful of sugar for so long; yeast right from the freezer into the flour does just fine. Second, and on the topic of yeast, it was on my expensive ingredients list until I learned that it comes pretty-darn-cheap in bulk. We ordered a brick from Amazon at five bucks a pound; it lives in suspended animation in the bottom of the freezer, with a cup or so in a glass jar for easier access. (I like Red Star yeast. It reminds me that cooking should be communal.)
Third, a pan loaf goes into the oven when it starts to heat. That is, no preheating – just click the oven on bake, 372F (I have digital resolution to the degree; there’s no way I’m rounding if I don’t have to) and let it go. When the oven comes to temperature, the loaf is firm enough to score and insert the thermometer probe.
Four, thermometers. There’s nothing predictable about how quickly my bread cooks. I never mix in quite the same water content, nor have quite the same sized loaf. (I like to make dough by feel, in the Tassajaran sense that experimental chemists are a more fun dinner group than theoretical chemists.) But, if I probe it and remove the bread from heat when its interior hits 195, I end up with a fine piece of toast the next morning.
Five (and in a second homage to DA in this evening’s posts), that’s a USA Bread Pan. Corrugated steel with a bit of silicone. Made in Pittsburgh. Dough goes in, bread comes out, never with a soggy bottom. Best loaf pan I’ve used.