Confessions of A Good Cooker
Bread and pie crusts are the bain of my existence. If I use my bread maker, I am reasonably certain to be successful, but from scratch...bah. I am almost guaranteed to screw it up. Someone far back in my lineage must have really irked the Pillsbury Doughboy or something.
Today I followed a recipe - to the letter - for herbed Italian bread. I weighed my flour and proofed my yeast. All looked good until I tried to form the dough into a round loaf. I felt like Br'er Rabbit fighting the Tar-Baby. It stuck to both my hands - fronts and backs and between my fingers - a sure sign I added too much water or not enough flour. Who knows.
I finally succeeded in making a decent shape and let it rise. I got my razor and cut the cute little lines in the top and popped it in the oven. As if the earlier events weren't bad enough, my loaf cooked to a beautiful golden brown in TEN MINUTES. Temp was right, oven rack was on the right level. Who knows. I turned the oven down and checked the loaf in another ten minutes. It was then approaching Russian rye status. The internal temp was no where near 200 degrees, so I decided to try and save it by turning the loaf over. I had nothing to lose. Alas, it was stuck to the cooking stone even though I "liberally sprinkled corn meal" on the stone. I guess my dough was still too moist - either that or I really am cursed. Who knows. After carefully prying around the edges, I was relieved to feel the loaf pop loose. I picked it up to flip it over and discovered the middle still stuck to the stone. More scraping freed the gooey blob and I put the loaf back in the oven for the final ten minutes.
Was it pretty? No. Was it delicious? Yes. Will I try bread from scratch again any time soon? Who knows.
(PS - I might as well admit I also...use...jar sauce. I've tried to make spaghetti sauce from scratch and it turns out ok, but I prefer the flavor and convenience of the stuff in a jar. That's not to say I just open the jar, heat it up and dump it on. No, I do fix it up a little - add sauteed mushrooms or onions, extra herbs and garlic, meat, shredded zucchini, etc. But, I once told a fellow cooker of my secret shortcut and she looked at me like I just told her I used real dirt in my dirty rice. Bugger.)