Saturday morning my wife got to sleep in and I got up with Baby Harbat. With breakfast I made a pot of chai. Then made a fire in the fireplace—after all, it’s the only time of day when it’s cold enough for it. Then the caffeine kicked in.
Over the course of the weekend I managed to do a hundred tasks that I’ve been avoiding. Maybe it was the caffeine, but from that first pot on Saturday morning, I got stuck in high gear and embarked on an almost non-stop chorefest that included getting the oil changed on both cars, cars washed, cleaning and conditioning my leather seats, buffing out and polishing my headlights to restore clarity, rebuilding the innards of the guestroom toilet, installing a wood threshold in the bathroom door, vacuuming, bunny cage cleaning, grocery shopping, fresh dinners from scratch, and laundry. Even on Sunday, on my day to sleep in, I woke at 8 and my mind raced with the things to be done. And the weird thing is, I wanted to do them. Still in my bathrobe, I tackled the toilet rebuild.
Luckily it all wore off by Sunday afternoon, as we took Baby Harbat and a friend with her daughter to a nearby lake. As the sun set, we collected rocks, picked at the last crumbs of a pumpkin muffin, watched the ducks, climbed boulders, chased Baby Harbat down the path, and got stared-down by a strident coyote as the sun set. In sum, a great weekend.
This week I’m going to try out a whole new bread method. I got a birthday present from my step-mother, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which brings me back full circle to where I began: no-knead bread. I’ll be making a large batch of dough then refrigerating it for a few days and cutting off pieces to make periodically. This method has several great things going for it:
1. More time. Every instance in which I’ve given my dough an overnight stay in the fridge, it’s turned out to be more flavorful.
2. Less time. You mix it up, give it two hours, then it goes into the fridge. No kneading. When you are ready to bake a piece, it only needs a twenty-minute proof then it goes into the oven.
3. Dishes. By mixing everything up in the storage container, you eliminate most of the dishes to be washed. For a typical bread I use two bowls and several scrapers, plus the cleanup on the board. I’m fast at it but the dish drainer gets filled to overflowing far too often for my wife’s liking.
4. Scheduling. If I’ve already got some dough in the fridge, I can bake with one day lead time, which is better for my customers. And better for me if I get a hankering for fresh bread for dinner.
I am curious to see how the flavor profile of the bread turns out. When I tried Hamelman’s overnight sponge and folding technique, I found the bread taste to be sweet but shallow. If this new method can get me a more mature flavor, somewhere between Hannah Montana and the Crypt Keeper, I’ll be impressed.