my summer reading

I have been on a kick of reading cookbooks. Eventhough I am unemployed I have purchased at least 5 new cookbooks this summer alone. My housemate looks at me like I am a real freak, and for what, reading a cookbook from cover to cover.

So far I have two favorites, the first one made me want to be Italian, to travel to Italy and speak the language. I wished to trade in my little jewish grandma for a little Italian grandma. The book is called, In Nonna's Kitchen: Recipes and Traditions from Italy's Grandmothers, by Carol Field. This cookbook has Biographical information about the various grandmothers whose recipes have gone into the book. Lots of fun.

The second one I just picked up and started reading, is, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking, by Nigella Lawson. There are so many things in there to try.

Over this past week I have made two recipes from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking. The first was there Finnish Rye Bread.

I have never been good with baking breads, but this one was simple and came out surprisingly well.

1 1/2 cups rye flour
2 cups white bread flour
1 package rapid rise yeast
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

put the dry ingredients into a bowl and slowly add the water, mixing with your handds or a wooden spoon, until you've got a messy but vaguely cohesive lump of dough. Add a tablespoon full of melted butter and mix just to incorporate it. Start kneading, either by hand or with a doug hook, until the dough comes together smoothly to form a dense ball, adding more water or flour ( use the white flour if more is needed) as necessary.

Use some more of the melted butter to grease a bowl and turn the dough ball in it so that the top is oily (and wont therefore dry out), then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a cold plave overnight, or for an hour or so someplace warm.

When the dough's doubled in size punch it down. Giving a few good kneads, and then form into a round loaf. Set the loaf on a baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and leave to get puffy for about 30 minutes, during which time preheat the oven to 375F. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the loaf is cooked through. It should sound hollow when you rap it on its underside, and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Brush with the remaining tablespoon of melted butter and leave on a wire rack to cool.

Well I left my loaf of bread to rise for a few hours in a warm place, punched it down kneaded it, waited an hour or so for it to get puffy again and baked it. It smelled wonderful while it cooked. When I took it out and brushed it with butter I nearly dove in. why brush the butter when I can dip the hot bread into it. I let it cool enough to handle and cut a piece off. I was disappointed, the dough was moist and felt undercooked. I hoped it was just that it was hot.

I let it cool completely and put it in a plastic ziplock bag. This afternoon I took it out, sliced off a piece and put it in the toaster oven. It was wonderful, a light but dense bread. What I truely consider a country bread. I heated mine up, but a little butter on it, and opened a can of Shari Anne's Organic Tomato and Garlic soup. heaven....

Posted by karine on October 04, 2002 | TrackBack

Reading cookbooks isn't so weird at all! Heck, we just had to buy a second living-room bookcase to accomadate mine. Russell's good about the budget - he figures he benefits from the results, and he's even started cooking for me out of some of them. ;)

Posted by: librarian on October 4, 2002 10:39 PM

Once Shari tasted the Dense Chocolate Load Cake she said to me that my reading of cookbooks had paid off, and that it was a wonderful cake. So maybe she understands. Or at least will come to the same level of acceptance as Russell has.

Posted by: karine on October 5, 2002 10:06 AM
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