Sunday, 1 July 2012

Carb overload weekend continues

I've been a very, very bad girl this weekend. There honestly seems to be no limits to how much I can eat. Oh well, my theory is that the body can only absorb a certain amount of calories per day, so if you plan to overdose on guilty food pleasures, you might as well have them all in one day rather than spread out over many days (and I *don't* want to be corrected on this little theory, thank you very much. Denial is a good place to be). Hopefully that also will result in such a horrible food hangover that you have no problem staying on the straight and narrow for a long time to come. So yesterday I went for lovely afternoon tea at Kettner's with Best Friend, and then binged out on a crazy bread and cheese overload at home later that evening (and that was followed by a light dessert of caramel and raspberries, but that was just an afterthought so it doesn't count). And today, I'm trying to haul my wobbly bits out for a run, but have been unsuccessful in all attempts so far. 

Anyways. My second worst food craving (after chocolate, duuh!) is bread. I know a lot of people on low carb diets particularly miss pasta, but for me, that's something I could imagine living without. My carb daydreams consist of fluffy white bread dripping with melted cheese (go and have a look at my Cheat Meals Pinterest Board to get an idea). So I have been really working hard to stay away from all sorts of bread. However, I happened upon a pin on Pinterest for the most amazingly looking bread from Simply so good and after trying to coyly avoid it for a few days (I don't want to seem too eager, you know how it is...) I succumbed. I mean, just look at the pics!! Can you imagine anything dreamier?? There was one teeny tiny little problem though. I don't own a cast iron pot. Well, I didn't want a minute detail like that stand in the way between me and the new love of my life. So I improvised a bit. I used a regular ovenproof dish, and covered the bread with baking foil instead. It didn't turn out quite as pretty as the bread on the blog (which of course makes sense as the cast iron pot probably creates some kind of special conditions that make the bread extra crusty), but it was not bad at all this way either. Not a pretty round shape as you can see from the pics, instead a horrible alien looking blob. But it did have a nice crunchy crust. And when you find your one true love you shouldn't worry too much about looks, and focus more on the substance. And I'm so getting myself a cast iron pot. Maybe not a LC, as being a scientist doesn't pay enough to buy fancy cookware, but I'm sure there are cheaper options out there. Although I love the LC:s, they are just so perfectly pretty. I want a purple one. Too bad my birthday just passed. Mum, this is a tip for a Christmas pressie, *wink wink*. 

Simply so good bread: 

3 cups (7.2 dl) unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) water

The howto:
Depending on your yeast, prepare it according to the instructions. For me that meant mixing it with a teaspoon of sugar and adding warm water. When the yeast-water mix has started to get frothy, add the salt and flour. The original recipe instructs to mix flour, yeast and salt, and add the water. I guess this depends on your yeast, and I suspect any method would work. Oh, and use a big bowl, the dough will expand quite a bit. Then let the dough stand for 12-18 hours in room temperature. Mine actually waited around for almost 24 hours, and it still worked perfectly. The dough will be really gooey and runny.

When baking, preheat the oven to 230 degrees C. Warm your cast iron pot for half an hour in the oven. Or in my case, I just warmed up my heavy oven proof dish. Transfer your dough from the bowl onto a heavily floured surface. This is no joke, use a crazy amount of flour, the dough is really gooey. Form into a ball and cover with plastic wrap (and make sure there is plenty of flour between the dough and the cling film, otherwise all of your bread will stick to the film). My "ball" didn't keep it's shape at all, next time I might try to add just a touch more flour to the dough. When the pot is hot, dump the dough in there. Make sure your hands are heavily floured too, otherwise your bread will get stuck on your hands at this stage. I think baking it in the round pot would cause the bread to get a nice, regular round shape, but I don't have a round pot so I cooked it in a square dish and it turned out to look like an alien. But don't worry about how my bread looks, just look at the original pics!! Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on (or in my case, covered with foil) and then another 15 without the lid/foil. Cool on a rack. And you have delicious, crunchy crusty bread.  

The verdict:
Like I said, I didn't expect this to turn out quite as good as the original, as the cooking conditions weren't perfect. It still turned out really nice and fluffy, although not as pretty as the original. And just cooking it in a normal oven proof dish which was covered with tin foil still resulted in a nice crust, so I can only imagine how great it would turn out in the cast iron pot. I can't wait to get myself one of them to be able to try this out. Maybe I need to go visit my sis and her flatmate's LC to try this out properly. I'm so excited about this bread, as it's so simple to cook. Yes, the dough is really gooey and a bit difficult to work with, but I'm sure after a few iterations to optimise the amount of flour to suit the specific type of flour I'm using (I used Tesco strong bread flour) it will be great. Simply So Good also had a few suggestions for different flavours: rosemary, lemon and Gruyere and another one with cranberry, orange and almond. And the comments section has so many more suggestions, and I can imagine quite a few myself.

I had to really restrain myself from eating the whole loaf in one go. There is nothing more heavenly than warm bread straight out of the oven, eaten with butter. I know it will be quite a while before I can have bread again, but I'm sure of one thing. The next time I'm having bread, it will be this bread again. Baking it is great fun, and I warmly suggest you try it too. Especially if you happen to own a LC, you lucky bastard. 

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