Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"I love the humour of bread and cheese"

In the absence of leftovers, I decided to make goat cheese and arugula sandwiches on fennel fig bread for lunch today, baking one loaf as a boule and one in a loaf pan. I really should have read the comments left on the bread recipe more thoroughly, because they would have helped me improve the recipe somewhat. First of all, it's very, very heavy on the figs and fennel. Normally, I'm a fan of strongly spiced baked goods chock-full of dried fruit or what have you, but the fennel overwhelmed the very lightly rye-flavored dough, and the sheer quantity of chopped figs gave the loaves an uneven second rise. Next time, I'll halve the fennel and add maybe 75 percent the figs (which I intend to soak in boiling water before kneading in), or 50 percent if I feel like adding walnuts. I added some olive oil and extra water to the dough, too, which turned out to be an excellent decision. That being said, you can't go wrong with the flavor combination, so it made a good lunch.

Dinner was, well, bread and cheese and vegetables in another form: cheesy onion bread with garlicky peas. Andy and I keep saying that we're totally stuffed and then breaking more pieces off the loaf. It's got baking powder and soda in it, not yeast, and copious amounts of buttermilk; the texture is like nothing so much as a more refined KFC biscuit (the butter I drizzled over the top probably helped that along). (Only a quarter of a loaf left at this point. No more, I swear. Oh, wait, Andy just put like half of the last chunk into his mouth. Maybe I could have one more bite, just to speed the loaf-finishing along?) The recipe called for Gruyere, but I used the much cheaper cheddar, and I caramelized the onions in a bit of oil instead of just browning them lightly in butter. (All gone. Luckily, Andy and I ate it in a 2:1 ratio, so I only feel like a little bit of a fatass.) I also may or may not have added an extra half-cup of flour; I was distracted while measuring it out, and when it came time to mix in the liquids, the batter was incredibly runny. Another half-cup of flour sorted it out just fine.

The recipe is here. I used the full stick (gah!) of butter in the dough, but like I said, I used a bit of oil for the onions and just drizzled butter on the top instead of putting as much on as she suggests. And I saw no need to butter the loaf pan; sure enough, the loaf popped out easily despite this. The assembly scheme for the loaf is also poorly described, so if you want to make it and are confused, drop me an e-mail and I'll give you a diagram.

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