First, the important news. It appears we have a famous villain in captivity. Below are his pre- and post-incarceration pictures. Hooray justice!
Now for a terse recap of last night’s baking projects. But before I even started baking, I got to throw away three half loaves of bread. Two were ones I mailed out which were returned to me six days later after the address label fell off. (Sorry Erin!) The third was a rustic rosemary loaf that was moldy and resembled a lichen-covered boulder. It’s a great feeling to see your hard work bank shot off the rim of the trash can and hit the refuse at the bottom with a satisfying thump.
So we come to the baking. Lesson 1: don’t be distracted while you measure ingredients. I somehow used triple the normal amount of cinnamon. There must be a way to make the lowercase t for teaspoon not look like the uppercase T for tablespoon. Then I used up all the eggs so couldn’t make an egg wash to brush over the risen loaves. Then a hitherto unseen pool of junk that poured out of a pan during dinner and into the bottom of the stove began to smoke and smolder, filling the house and the oven with smoke, making me think my cinnamon bread would come out with a country-style beef jerky flavor. Then I burned my arm on the oven while rotating a loaf, jerked my arm back, and slammed my funny bone on the tile counter edge, resulting in five minute of searing debilitating pain. During baking, both loaves of cinnamon bread burst out the side. These were dark times. There was cursing.
Dazed and reeling, Uncle F#$*-Up made the Team USA ciabatta from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It wasn’t dough, it was pancake batter. After doing the requisite 3 hour rise with a fold each hour, the batter seemed lifeless. I took it from the bowl and it landed on the bench like a deflated toad—all wrinkles and flab. Getting it onto the parchment was a barely-controlled pour of silk into a puddle. My hopes were stomped, thrown on the rocks, drowned, pulled from the water, resuscitated, then waterboarded and drowned again.
10:15 pm with two hours of rising and baking to go.
Looking at the dough that pooled on the board like something that fell from the back end of a very sick horse, I decided to call it. Take off the mask, clean up the OR, and wheel away the patient to the morgue. I slid the dough into the fridge so I could bake it in the morning before work. This was probably the only smart thing I did all day.
This morning the dough was flat and wan, resembling E.T. as he was pulled from the creekbed. I chucked it in the oven, steamed, and left to brush my teeth. Ten minutes later, the dough had come to life, was golden, puffy, and blistered. Holy. Sh#t. Despite my faithlessness it had sprung in the oven to double size, and looked like honest-to-God ciabatta. Bringing it to work this morning, still warm in a paper bag, it made my car smell like baker’s heaven: salty, nutty, creamy, and buttery.
So in response to my yesterday self who thought all was lost, I only have three things to say:
USA! USA! USA!