Guest Written by: Amanda Cruz, AKA Baking Waifu
Hello, Amanda here! I started baking bread about two years ago and fell in love with it as a hobby, so when Theresa expressed an interest in trying out bread making for herself, I was one of the people behind her with pompoms and a bag of flour. As a child I had a love for bread that bordered on a complex, and while I have more self control as an adult, there’s still something about a warm loaf of bread that makes me want to dive right in and forget balanced food groups.
I actually picked up baking on a whim, but with the gusto of a college student who has her own kitchen for the first time. My first loaf was tragic, lopsided and a bit anemic in color, but I ate it with the smug satisfaction of someone who had created a masterpiece. Since then, I’ve experimented with different recipes and cookbooks, but have only kept two up on my shelves. One of those is Flour Water Salt Yeast, and it’s quickly become a favorite.
Flour Water Salt Yeast had been sitting on my shelf for 6 months when I recommended it to Theresa, the spine barely cracked and only its simplest recipe tried. “Why would you recommend a book where you’ve only tried one recipe? Sounds really impulsive.” Yeah. It was. But it was also a great call. That one recipe I tried? My first timer success with it was ridiculously high. That loaf came out looking nearly exactly like the cover of the book, and tasting just as good. How often can you say that about a cookbook?
That’s one of the magical things about this cookbook. Even though Ken Forkish’s recipes are as precise as a lab experiment, even people with minimal baking experience can transform those four simple ingredients into a loaf you would be thrilled to buy at a bakery. He takes his time explaining his methods and provides step by step directions (with pictures!) so that you can duplicate his process
I baked my Saturday Morning White Bread alongside Theresa and not only was the actual hands-on time really short (maybe an hour total in the kitchen), I came out with what might be the best loaf of bread I’ve ever made. Taking it out of the oven, you can hear the crust crackling as it encounters the cooler air. The crust itself was chewy, and cutting into the loaf revealed a beautiful crumb, bread so fluffy it makes you want to cry.
The flavor is simple, yeasty with just a hint of that beautiful tang from a sourdough, exactly what you want out of a homemade bread. I paired it with a chicken and vegetable soup and used the pieces to sop up the broth. My husband is now begging me to try making it as a bread bowl, since Panera is too far from us to be convenient. We’ll see.
Oh, and did I mention I only baked half the dough? The recipe makes two loaves, so I saved half and made it into focaccia the next day with just a little olive oil, parmesan, and herbs. Two breads for the price of one, how can you beat that?
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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