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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Rough and ready pepper bread

I baked today, for a wedding up north. Hmm, turned on the bread machine, set it for MIX ONLY, and then cut up very small: 1 jalapeno pepper, throwing away the seeds; 1 clove elephant garlic; 1 hank of chives with a few leaves of lavender; about 10 cherry tomatoes -- these were from Beloved's garden -- Romas are better for this but they are still green -- in September! --

-- and threw on about 1/8 teaspoon dried basil and some thyme.

Dumped all that into the bread machine.

Two handfuls of oatmeal.

Four dripits of virgin olive oil (a "dripit" [my word] is, you tilt the bottle. Some comes out. Tilt it back up right away. Should be about an eighth of a teaspoon per dripit) in the four corners of the mixing pan.

One scoop (I think it's a quarter cup scoop) of brown sugar, spread evenly over the heap.

1/4 packet of yeast.
16 oz. of warm (in cold weather) or lukewarm (in warm weather) water, vegetable stock, or whey as available (today, about half tofu whey and half well water).

Went away for half an hour and let the heap grumble a bit.

Came back and added a smallish handful of salt to one corner (about half of what the sugar was).

Fired up the mixer.

Took a small bowl, about 12 oz. size, and shook three scoops of whole wheat flour over the whirling stuff.

Let it rise up and make a sticky rotating ball.

Opened some white high gluten flour and took a bowlful and slowly shook it all over the ball until the ball was not sticky to the touch. The less sticky, the taller it will rise in the low-sided dish it is destined for. Though there is a limit to this -- experience will guide.

I then let the mixer finish its cycle (1 hr 20 minutes on my machine). Went to find the ironstone platter with vertical sides, shaped like a low, round cake pan, that I like best for this (I think we had a place setting of these once, and these were the plates. This is my last one, and I treasure it). Greased it up with vegetable shortening.

With my (CLEAN) hands well greased, I picked up the mixing pan from the bread machine, held it upside down over a well floured bread board, listened to the satisfying plop, set down the pan, and worked the loaf a bit, keeping the ball shape. Turned it right side up (the smooth balloon like surface that was the down side on the board) and set it in the center of the platter. Grabbed a steak knife and swiped three little canyons in the top, about 3/8" deep and 4" long (I don't know what these are for but they look good!).

Set aside to rise in a warm place under a sheet of vegetable-oiled plastic (so it won't stick to the loaf and let the air out when it's pulled away).

In my oven, I set two racks so that one would be about 3" above the other, with room for the loaf to rise in baking (at least three inches of headroom).

On the lower shelf, I put a pizza pan as a deflector, so as not to burn the bottom of the loaf when the middle isn't done yet.

On the upper shelf, the loaf platter, centered above the pizza pan.

Baked it one hour at 325° F., checking at fifty minutes (by tipping the loaf out and thumping its belly. A drum sound means done. I'm too deaf to go by sound, but I know the look and feel).

I set it on a drying rack to cool. Will bag later.

Ready for the wedding!


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