I should apologise to my blog for not writing enough about food. I actually have been cooking stuff and photographing it, all the while thinking in my inner “blog voice”. I made gnocchi from potatoes for goodness sake! Alas, sloth had its tendrils wrapped firmly upon me.
Speaking of sloth and writing, exam season is here. Many people cope with the stress differently. I eat… and bake; then I eat what I bake. Afterwards comes the guilt of eating with very little exercise and the frustration of schoolwork being boring, which somehow ends with me eating and baking more.
I don’t quite understand it myself.
Nevertheless, stress gets me baking. In my group of friends, I’m Izzie Stevens with a mohawk (Grey’s Anatomy makes for good, non-culinary breaks).
As you would’ve known had I been actually writing here, I’ve attempted to make bread a few times in the past. In the past, these loaves haven’t come out right. They’ve been edible (one was over-salted) but not right. They were too dense; they would turn to rock after a week; they wouldn’t rise properly! I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Then, it hit me: temperature!
It wasn’t the only thing I was doing wrong, but it helped a lot. I was overheating the yeast and I wasn’t leaving the dough in a warm enough place for it to rise. Both of these essential for bread. I also figured the density of the breads were due to my bad kneading. I’ve practiced: the dough doesn’t break and I think I haven’t added too little water this time.
So what happened this time? Focaccia!
A delicious-sounding recipe [here] showed up on the wordpress homepage and I bookmarked it to try someday. I ran out of lemons trying to make lemonade with honey instead of sugar (fop!) so I figured simply “herbing” it would do. It was great. The dough stretched in my hands like no other dough had before. The dough’s size actually increased after I took it from a cooling oven (warm place). The rosemary and olive oil’s smells invaded the kitchen as the oven’s heat took over. I couldn’t wait.
Once I took it out, I let my eyes swim over the sight. It looked perfect—Golden and toasty; it smelt right; it even felt right—kind of spongy, but with a firm-ish outer layer. I’d slightly burnt the bottom, which would make slicing a bit frustrating, but overall good.
I left it to cool.
I was impatient.
The moment I thought it had cooled down enough I zoomed to the kitchen, grabbed a bread knife and cut.
It’s insides were beautiful.
A regular bread baker will shrug and laugh at how amateur it looks, but I have finally got it right. There are holes! It worked! The yeast had remained alive and metabolising! Bubbles of carbon dioxide had, in fact, remained trapped in the focaccia’s starchy goodness!
As entertaining as it would be to say I cried, I didn’t. I internally squeal with joy and “aw yeah”ed and arm pumped and screamed a hushed “YUS!” (my housemates were sleeping… since it’s the same night I believe they still are).
On another note, my friend and I had told ourselves we’d make cricket cookies. Yep, you read it right. Cricket cookies. We ordered the little things online from the provider of “I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here” (as we found out once the package had been delivered)[link]. We also ordered bamboo worms, but they sent us beetles instead. We won’t complain. Why? Because the beetles look like chocolate chips in the cookies.
It didn’t make me feel like either Timon or Pumba.