Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Not Your Usual Pre-Passover Kitchen Experience

Two things I have never done before today:

  • Baked bread with sourdough starter

  • Baked bread in a Dutch oven

Which led to another thing I've never done:

  • Baking bread three nights before Passover starts

Several of our recipes this year have taken on an experimental will-it-work? quality, with my class watching/joining in as things do or don't go as expected. The double-newness of this week's recipe gave me pause, so I decided to try out the recipe and technique at home ahead of time. This afternoon, while I should have been scrubbing all traces of leavened foods from my kitchen or baking a cake with a dozen egg whites and no flour, I used a portion of our class starter to make a test batch of sourdough bread at home.

The dough mixed up fine and rose during dinner. After dinner I followed these instructions for baking bread on the stove top. A double thanks to my husband: first for randomly having a huge cast iron pot in the basement which recently went out on loan to a teacher at his school. She and her class cleaned and oiled it and had it on display as a colonial cooking tool. He brought it home yesterday afternoon a whole lot less dusty than before, all set for kitchen use. Second, he remembered we had a medium sized pot without a handle that had been living in our daughter's play kitchen. This was perfect for baking the bread inside the cast iron pot, since it didn't have any parts that could melt. The third tool in the process was not a tuna fish can, as suggested in the link, but a sardine can, because that was what we had in our recycling bin. (The small can keeps the pot off the direct heat of the cast iron, so the bread is less likely to burn.)

The bread started getting dark on the bottom partway through, before it reached 200 degrees (this temperature indicating it's fully baked) so I took the small pot out, flipped the bread onto a cutting board, and put it back in upside down. When the top-on-the-bottom started getting dark, I turned off the heat and left it for another twenty minutes to finish baking without the direct heat. This worked perfectly.

Right now, the bread is cooling on my countertop and it smells really good. I'm going to have to try a slice tonight, but then I'll bring the rest to school to augment what we bake together. Yum!

Take a long look; as soon as I post this entry, I'm grabbing a knife and cutting into this baby!

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