Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dutch Oven Boule

Dutch Oven Boule, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Fresh baked bread doesn't suck, even when it's not quite as airy as I would have liked and even if it's a tad scorched on the bottom.
Ruhlman made me do it again. I just got Michael Ruhlman's new book Ruhlmans Twenty and this is the first recipe I had to run off and make. Again. Twice.
What is it about this man that makes me take his every word as gospel? He's cute and he's funny and he knows his way around a kitchen. I'm a little bit obsessed if you wanna know the truth. I've got three of his books going on at the same time. Ratio got me baking this boule last year and it pretty much convinced me that my skills as a bread baker need some least until I hit to lotto and  buy myself a Kitchen Aid, although first things first. I need a new computer.
The third Ruhlman I'm reading is The Making of a Chef. This has been my bus book for a while now. I am certainly not planning on becoming a chef or going to cooking school (although spending a week at a cooking school in Tuscany sounds absolutely dreamy). I was surprised  by how fascinated I was by his journey through the Culinary Institute of America.
Anyhoo...bread: I need to become one with all the kneading. This simple dough recipe first appeared in Ratio, a brilliant book by the way, that breaks down most of the basics of cooking proportionally. For example a basic short cookie dough is 1 part sugar, 2 parts fat and 3 parts flour or bread dough: 5 parts flour, 3 parts water plus a bit of yeast and salt. Then batters, doughs, sauces, roux etc. What an eye-opener.
It wasn't so much the bread ratio that got me itching to make this, it was that it was baked in a dutch oven and I had only just bought one. It HAD to be made.
It turned out...ok. Well better than ok. Fresh baked bread outta the oven? great. It was nice, but I literally ached the next day from all that kneading. Ruhlman instructs that the dough is properly kneaded when you can tear off a small piece and stretch it until it's transparent. If it just breaks it needs more kneading. It never did reach the level of transparency shown in the books photo.
After what seemed like forever. I gave up and baked it up anyway. It was fine, if not a bit dense. It didn't suck. Ok. I made french bread. Done. Move on and enjoy a loaf from Boudin for $2.65. I live in San Francisco for pete's sake. The best sourdough in the world. Then I discover that my new neighborhood Fresh and Easy has fresh baked Italian loaves for 98 cents! The lightest softest bread I've ever had.
Fast forward to last week, I get my new book in the mail (yeah I know...I wasn't supposed to do this anymore...drink margaritas whilst browsing Amazon) and what do I see but this damn Dutch Oven Boule again, this time in a beautiful full color photo (Ratio is a small format paperback with black & white pics) whilst Rulhman waxes all poetic about the tranquility of kneading even after admitting that he starts it off in the Kitchen Aid, yet I'm suckered in to making it again. My OCD is not done with this.

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