Email from Jill Myles (aka Jessica Clare): Are you alive?
Me: Sort of. I tried to give my advance back to Ace and they wouldn’t take it.
First things first, the news from Ace is that they don’t mind giving us a little more time. I am probably going to torture friends and volunteers with the draft we have now and see if it’s salvageable and then we’ll go from there. So no publishing apocalypse so far. I unplugged completely for a month and it was so therapeutic, I can’t even tell you. One of the best things about applying was not reading about any fights on Twitter. I am probably going to make that a permanent solution. Somehow Facebook seems to generate less flame wars in my experience, so I am likely to still personally update it, but Twitter has been turned over to Nicole.
How was your Christmas? Ours was low key and lovely. It was honestly the happiest, most soothing family Christmas I can remember. I loved it. New Year was equally awesome.
I got a bunch of presents from Gordon and the kids. I now have every fruit tea known to man. I dedicated a whole kitchen drawer to it. When you open it, it’s like fruit tea buffet. I also got beautiful jewelry from Gordon. It’s really pretty. I am not a jewelry person, but for some reason I really wanted a pendant so I asked for some costume jewelry and he got me the real thing. 🙂
When my grandmother made bread, it was an enormous undertaking. The dough was mixed, kneaded, permitted to rise for a certain period of time, kneaded again, sometimes violently thrown onto the table several times, allowed to rise again… You get the point. No sane person who isn’t making bread for a living would do this more than once.
This book eliminates all of that. You take basic ingredients and throw them into a plastic bucket. You mix them – no kneading – allow them to rise for a couple of hours and stick the dough in the fridge. When it comes time to bake, you cut a chunk of dough, dust it with flour, sort of shape it into lopsided loaf (in my case) and stick it into hot oven.
It took me a couple of tries to hit on the perfect dough. The first time I used bread flour and it turned too dry. I now use all purpose flour from Costco. Also the book recommends using a pizza peel, which is a big wooden shovel that looks like something the witch would sit Hanzel and Gretel on and a pizza stone.
I found that pizza peel is optional if you have wax paper. Pizza stone is not. You can get the pizza peel for about $15-20 from Amazon or culinary supply store and the pizza stone will run you about $20-$40. I bought mine at a factory outlet for the combined price of $36. So worth it.
Here is the way I do it: I warm up the oven with the pizza stone in it to 450 degrees, let it run for another 10 minutes to make sure stone is nice and hot, slap my dough on there, and here is the crucial part – spray the pizza stone with water. Steam is the key here. Then I put a large metal mixing bowl over my loaf to trap the steam. I might try it without the bowl today to see if it works. Then I bake it for 20 minutes, take the bowl out so the dough will brown and bake for another 10.
The bread is indescribably delicious. We are not a bread-eating family normally. I actually wanted the book because we are a morning panini eating family, and I got tired of always being out of bread for the paninis. I baked the bread in the evening 4 times in anticipation of using it for morning panini. None of the bread makes it to the morning.
The book recommends letting the dough sit in the fridge for about 8 hours before using it; however, I’ve abused this rule horribly. I mixed it, let it rise and threw it in the oven. It still baked up great. It is really difficult to screw this up and the dough can rest in the fridge for 14 days. So make a batch and use it as you need it. I love it. I’ll take pictures for you tonight when I make the last of the bread from the latest batch.
Things I did other than bake bread: completed cleaning of pantry, cleaned the garage, cleaned my side of the closet (Gordon’s is always meticulously clean), cleaned the bathroom… You are probably sensing a theme there. I don’t know how it all got so messy but it did. I followed a simple rule with clothes: if it’s not my favorite, or if it doesn’t fit, donate it or throw it out.
I also knitted. I grew a beautiful amaryllis from a bulb – it made me very happy – and yesterday I made a tree out of stone chips and wire. 🙂 I will post pictures of those later too.
How did your holidays go?