Finally, I think I’ve hit on what it takes to make ears. No, it’s not a sharp scalpel, a trip to the morgue, and some reanimation serum. Last night I made two loaves of sourdough and decided to form them tight. I’d read about overhandling proofed dough and working all the nicely formed bubbles out of it, so I’ve always used kid gloves (made from real kids!). But last night I tried a technique I saw Julia Child doing with Raymond Calvel. If you don’t know that second name, he’s a superstar in the bread world, a Frenchman who “rediscovered” the autolyse method. Basically, if he said to make chicken noises to your bread, you’d be hearing clucking in bakeries around the world. The technique he used was for baguettes, and you use the side of your hand to do a gentle karate shop down the length of the bottom of your dough, then pinch up the seams like you’re a little old lady closing a coin purse. Basically what you’re doing is creating a ton of surface tension so your bread will split open with operatic fervor. Witness:
Only one of my seams opened up, and that might have to do with scoring. But this is the closest I’ve EVER gotten to those beautiful burst-open sourdough loaves they make at Artisan Bakers in Sonoma. Here’s their version:
I also whipped up some beer bread to go with dinner, a prosciutto-wrapped pork loin with sweet potatoes, red onions, and pears. Though the recipe called for stout, I had none so used New Belgium’s Mothership Wit wheat beer. The flavor of the bread came out great, a tiny bit of spice and fabulous aroma, and because the dough was coated in melted butter, it has a crackly crunchy crust. Since this is a quickbread, I may try it again with stout, walnuts, and blue cheese, to make a more savory bread. The texture is like a crumbly scone, but much more moist.
Last night my wife hit the library jackpot, bringing home a huge Muppet craft book, an Elmo pop-up book, and a Muppets CD that were all on hold. Toddler Harbat was…ecstatic. She laughed as she read the Elmo book and said, “THERE’S THE COUNT! I love it! Heh heh…” The only tough part was prying it from her hands for bathtime, but this morning she had it back again and HAD to take it to school. I love that little munchkin.