Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Monday, November 26, 2007

Can I Really Bake Bread..*gulp* by Myself?

That's what I was thinking pretty much the whole 3 weeks I procrastinated on this challenge. Even though when Helene and Mary were here, they taught me how to do this.. it's not hard! It's just scary! And I really can't pinpoint why.

So this was my very first bread baking on my own.. oh yeah.. this is November's Daring Baker challenge (if you were just dropped down on this planet and didn't realize it. hee!) and frankly, I don't think there could be a better written recipe for me to start off with. I had the jitters, yes. I consulted my guru, most assuredly. But.. I felt confident that I could do this. Mmm hmm.

Potato bread rising Potato bread rising

So what was it like? The making of the bread was easy and quite rewarding. I really enjoyed getting my hands in there and kneading the dough (although my shoulders and upper arms weren't as happy) for what seemed like hours. hahahaa! No, it wasn't that bad.. but definitely a skill I need to condition myself for. Yanno, calisthenics, deep breathing exercises, weight training.. har! Okay so I haven't reached that zen place that true bread bakers achieve when they are elbow deep in dough, maybe one day? But, not only was it rewarding that I was making my very own bread.. but this dough also had another great purpose. It gave me 2 extra hands! Yes.. this dough is so sticky that when I needed to grab something, such as a wooden spoon, spatula or my bench scraper all I had to do was lightly waft one of my hands over the object - the sticky dough would suck it right up and hold on to it for me! I kinda felt like a magnet actually.. by the time it was all over, I had kitchen utensils, the recipe, my camera and my dog, Nigel, firmly attached to my appendages.

I decided, since I was so confident, that I'd make 3 different shapes or flavors with the very soft and sticky dough. Which, by the way, was made with bread flour and white whole wheat flour as your Queen of Dorkdum did not have any AP in the house (unbelievable!) and was not venturing out at the crack of dawn to a grocery store. (I KNOW! I broke the damn rules. I am totally going to get yelled at.) I wanted a boule - specifically one that looked like Gracie's. As if. Then I wanted a rustic, free-form shaped loaf flavored with Nicoise olives (Hubbs couldn't find Kalamata olives, which is what I really wanted) and Gruyere cheese. And finally, I wanted rolls for Thanksgiving dinner. Ohhh and by the way, I decided to bake bread for the very first time, by myself, on Thanksgiving morning. You know, when I didn't have to cook/bake all freakin' day long for my family's dinner. NOT. I mean seriously, am I a fakkin glutton for punishment or what?? Well, okay, it wasn't THAT bad.. Hubbs pitted and chopped the olives for me. ;)

Potato bread - Nicoise & Gruyere
Check out the brand new towels.. aren't they gorgeous? Almost as gorgeous as the gal who gave them to me. :D

Anyhoo.. as I've been saying.. everything went pretty much seamlessly.. UNTIL.. *shudder* until I put my boule and my olive/cheese loaf, on buttered baking sheets, into my smokin' hot 450º F. oven. And when I say, smokin' hot, I mean.. two SMOKING hot, butter burnin' baking sheets.. Oh yeah. And it was the black pillowy kind of smoke. You know, the kind that chokes and sets off the smoke alarm - as well as the built in ventilator on the microwave that's mounted above the oven.. which is louder than the fakkin smoke alarm? GOD. I could not see OR hear for a good half hour.

What does one do when her buttery baking sheets start to smoke? Well she opens the door, and remembers that her guru said there is a hot spot on the right side of the oven. So that is what must be causing the smoke! I'll just move the left baking sheet over to the right and move the right over to the left of the oven and that way I'll make it through the 10 minutes at super high heat without any more smoke! Brilliant!!

Mmmm hmmm...

Yeah.. no, that didn't work. So now I'm opening my oven door for the third time, taking out the smoking and now black charred baking sheets and searching frantically for my pizza stone (hello? She had a stone this whole time??).. sliding the pizza stone in.. running to the pantry to look for cornmeal.. throwin' a handful of it on the pizza stone (oven door open this whole time) and then move my amazingly NOT burnt breads to the stone. Turn the fakkin oven down to 375º, open the door a FOURTH time, and spritz a lil water in there for good measure.

People! I should NOT be left alone in a kitchen with a 450º oven!!!!

Potato bread - Boule
She looks puffy here, but that's only because my camera lens was a centimeter away. hee!

So my nice round and puffy boule? Well she ended up being a disc. Yeah, well what did I expect, eh? The olive/cheese bread turned out beautifully though - although I put way too many olives in it, so it was quite salty.. which I didn't like, but the rest of my family loved it. I gotta tell ya though.. the Gruyere was AMAZING in this bread.. I will make a Gruyere only loaf as one of my loaves next time.

Potato Buns

The rolls were next and they were baked in two buttered Pyrex baking dishes. They turned out beautifully in shape, height and color - with no smoking!

What'd I think about the final product? Well.. unfortunately, this wasn't the bread for me. I was really hoping for a chewier crust and I did not like how the crumb was so "tight", if that's a correct term? I prefer breads like Italian and French or even the No Knead bread, where there are nice open holes as opposed to a bread like commercially baked sandwich breads. Do you know what I mean?

I also know that the opening/closing of the oven door and the use of bread flour and white whole wheat flour played a major factor in my bread not turning out the way I had hoped. Not to mention, my family loved all 3 - I was the only one who was disappointed. So this weekend, in between running here and there, I stopped in to the local mega mart and stocked up on AP flour and more yeast - as well as Kalamata olives, roasted garlic and sun-dried tomatoes - this bread will be made again, this time with the correct flours and the knowledge learned that buttered, metal sheet pans aren't exactly the best way to go when baking something in a high temp oven. Sheesh.

Potato bread Potato bread - Nicoise & Gruyere
Hi! I'm the Smudge! Am I driving you crazy yet??

Did I mention that this month's hostess is a gal who I hold close to my heart? Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups decided on this recipe and she did a most excellent job helping everyone out throughout the month. Thank you SO MUCH Tanna! You were a fabulous hostess and I for one, was more than happy when I saw you had chosen bread.. I was hoping someone would soon and I got my wish. =) xoxo

Well all I can say now is.. there's plenty of reading and drooling available regarding this recipe - check out the ever growing Daring Baker Official Blogroll and enjoy the trip!

PS - I almost forgot to mention!!! I was TRAUMATICALLY WOUNDED that day! I can not say for sure this horrible event happened while making my bread or while making the various yummies for Turkey Day dinner.. as I did not even realize it happened until the flap of skin (ewww.. sorry) caught on a dish towel. Here is my photographic proof that maybe I'm not the best person to cook with on a day when I've got numerous items in the oven, the mixer, the cutting board, the fridge, etc. Say a prayer that my thumb will live through this. Please.

My wound My wound
My silhouetted wound
The silhouette of my wounded thumb in front of my monitor as I was talking with Helene and Marce on Yahoo.. we may or may not have been discussing a very disgusting (ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww) topic at the time.
No. I will not tell you what it was. :P


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Comments on "Can I Really Bake Bread..*gulp* by Myself?"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/26/2007 8:21 AM) : 

black smoke in the kitchen on thanksgiving day - well done for just getting on with it. the gruyere version sounds delicious - i'll have to try that.


Blogger Ilva said ... (11/26/2007 8:31 AM) : 

I'm in love with the Smudge!


Blogger Princess of the kitchen said ... (11/26/2007 8:33 AM) : 

Well, depite all of the dramas your bread looks great Lisa! I think the olicve and gruyere loaf looks delicious and the rolls look lovely and soft too! It is so nice to see what amazing things pepople did to their bread. Everyone' version is so unique. Good job


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/26/2007 8:55 AM) : 

What a struggle but you got through it and with a battle scar you should display proudly!

I'm gathering notes from the rest of the bakers for my next batch and gruyere is going on the list. Great job!



Blogger Inne said ... (11/26/2007 9:00 AM) : 

A DB founder afraid of a challenge? How can that be... Seemed you managed very well though, smoking ovens and nearly amputated thumbs and all - your breads look absolutely delicious!


Blogger Unknown said ... (11/26/2007 9:09 AM) : 

the smudge is funny, haha. your bread turned out great even with its kinks


Blogger glamah16 said ... (11/26/2007 9:21 AM) : 

Battle scars. But it all ended up well. I think I'd like the gruyere version as well. You have to be careful as the bread as so much salt and adding more salt like olives and stuff can send it over.I learned that the hard way.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/26/2007 9:25 AM) : 

Uhh...I think our twin-ness has done it again. Your boule looks eerily similar to what happened to my rolls. Nonetheless - everything looks fantastic!
Hope your finger is feeling better!


Blogger breadchick said ... (11/26/2007 9:34 AM) : 

HAR!! I can see you running around your lovely kitchen pulling sheets in and out of the oven, pushing that dough blob around!!

I'm so frippin' proud of you I can't even tell you how proud I am of you!! You'll be a bread baker before you know it!! Hugs


Blogger Madam Chow said ... (11/26/2007 10:29 AM) : 

It's so interesting to me how everyone's bread turned out differently - my crust was wonderfully chewy, and my dough was pretty much a gooey mess. And the bread still turned out great!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/26/2007 10:35 AM) : 

I think your loaves look great. I am just starting to explore the world of yeast bread baking myself and let me tell you that it looks scary, but the rewards are great, when you pass the point where you burn it, that's it.

This is a great blog, btw. I am a loyal reader.



Blogger Katie said ... (11/26/2007 10:50 AM) : 

Your breads turned out wonderfully. I love the cheesy addition. I always used to mash cheese into my mashed potatoes :)


Blogger Anne said ... (11/26/2007 10:57 AM) : 

Your post always makes me smile! Your bread looks perfect to me...I agree with you this is my least favorite of all the challenges but I learned a lot out of the whole process :)


Blogger slush said ... (11/26/2007 11:02 AM) : 

Your bread looks and sounds delish! And on Thanksgiving, good lord, you deserve an award! Way to go, your WAY braver than I would have been on Turkey Day! xo


Blogger Helene said ... (11/26/2007 11:36 AM) : 

B. is absolutely convinced that we are 100% weirdos...especially when the words coming out of my mouth for 30 minutes are "ehehehe / ahahaha/ eeewwwww".!!!! I have to tell you that I am proud of you for jumping right in the whole bread baking wagon and *on* Thanksgiving day to boot. Oh yeah, you love torture I give you that one!! So we have breads, a smudge, an injury and 3 friends holding their ribs together one friday night...I think we have another successful DB challenge, wouldn't you say?!!!


Blogger Gabi said ... (11/26/2007 11:52 AM) : 

Well they look great -smudge and all- Sorry about your trauma and the black smoke...xoxo
Well at least your sense of humor wasn't left wanting.


Blogger cookworm said ... (11/26/2007 12:09 PM) : 

I think it all looks quite lovely, and three cheers for you to attempt it on the dreaded Thanksgiving morning! Doing this was a learning experience for me, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/26/2007 12:09 PM) : 

The gruyere sounds like it would be a great cheese in this bread. Tell your thumb to get well soon :)


Blogger Bev and Ollie "O" said ... (11/26/2007 12:42 PM) : 

see you did really well! and all on your own! ;o)
Your bread looks fab!


Blogger BC said ... (11/26/2007 1:25 PM) : 

I love your posts. They inspire me to jump in and not worry.

I burnt my first batch but what the hay. It was fun.


Blogger kellypea said ... (11/26/2007 1:49 PM) : 

Yanno, Lis. I checked you at about 2am and nobody was home (snort.) Sounds like you are quite the bread making par-tay animalista. I ended up with a cut that wouldn't stop bleeding the day we make cinnabons. Think that'd be a bit gross on ustream? (and she looks longingly at the chat stream on the screen wishing that she had Yahoo! old style.) *sigh* And your bread looks loverly in spite of all the trauma.


Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said ... (11/26/2007 1:52 PM) : 

I just don't understand how it can read like disaster and look glorious with smudge! Only you Lisa!
Now I've totally made a fool of myself in this coffee shop, I have a very loud and distinctive laugh I'm told.
The bread flour would give you a tighter crumb than AP but I think you're being too hard on yourself.
You and your bread ROCK!


Blogger Deborah said ... (11/26/2007 2:02 PM) : 

You are ambitious to do this on Thanksgiving!! I'm gonna have to try it with gruyere - that sounds amazing!


Blogger Susan @ SGCC said ... (11/26/2007 2:09 PM) : 

With all that drama, you really ARE a Daring Baker! The bread came out great, though, and that's the important thing. ;)


Blogger Laura said ... (11/26/2007 2:13 PM) : 

I was beginning to get a bit freaked out there, thought it was the Ring 3! The olive and Gruyere is my favourite of all three. Kisses to your poor thumb!!


Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said ... (11/26/2007 2:47 PM) : 

Proof positive that the Daring Bakers' challenges are just that -- challenging! But you survived, and got one great bread out of it with the possibility of more the next time. Good for you for sticking it out!


Blogger Karen Baking Soda said ... (11/26/2007 2:49 PM) : 

Thumbs up for attacking this months challenge all by yourself (yeah that would be wounded or gloved thumbs as well!).
Love the rustic, no artisan crust on that one!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/26/2007 3:04 PM) : 

hahahahaha first of all, the smudge is adorable, though you were right, by the third picture I was wondering if I had completely lost my mind at last because I might have been the only person seeing a smudge!
And the finger looks lovely if you ask me, a very personal touch... I mean, now no one has a finger shaped like that... not to mention the hilarious pic of the finger looming in the shadows in front of a chat screen, genious!


Blogger Meeta K. Wolff said ... (11/26/2007 3:41 PM) : 

Smudge, smoke and pain - yes it's a Db challenge alright. Lis, as always a fantastic read and whatever you say you did a fab job girl!


Blogger Peabody said ... (11/26/2007 3:54 PM) : 

Tramatically wounded and still able to carry on...go Lis. :P
Beautiful breads...even if you did get a disk instead of a boule.
I will be interested in seeing how your bread with the right flours turns out.


Blogger Anita said ... (11/26/2007 4:07 PM) : 

You always have the best kitchen stories Lis! I think the beautiful breads you made were worth all the trouble!


Blogger Andrea said ... (11/26/2007 4:49 PM) : 

Woohoo! Congrats on tackling the challenge all by yourself. In spite of smudge, smoke, and bodily trauma, you pulled it off in high style! :-)


Blogger Megan said ... (11/26/2007 5:46 PM) : 

Your story cracked me up!


Blogger Annemarie said ... (11/26/2007 5:59 PM) : 

(and there I am, thinking you were just making animal hand forms in that last shot!). I love your extra appendage bit - very, very true. Know what you mean about the tight crumbs of the bread and preferring the Italian/French variety, but your loaves still look great.


Blogger kitten said ... (11/26/2007 6:12 PM) : 

Despite the very traumatic experience for you, your bread looks fantastic. I love the gruyere version... may have to try that one !


Blogger Purl's Gurl said ... (11/26/2007 8:03 PM) : 

Smoke or not, that olive loaf is yummylicious! I love it!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/26/2007 8:21 PM) : 

I alway get strange looks when someone catches me laughing out loud at my computer screen. I got LOTS of funny looks while reading this! Thanks for such a fun read. I love the olive and Gruyere loaf, and I completely agree about the Gruyere. It saved one of my attempts from being a complete tragedy.


Blogger Gretchen Noelle said ... (11/26/2007 9:29 PM) : 

I am glad that things turned out alright. I agree that this is not the bread for me.


Blogger Chris said ... (11/26/2007 10:28 PM) : 

Oh my - the visual! I am glad all came out. Everything turning out proves you preserve! What a leader! Go girl! (Doing my go-girl dance)


Blogger Judy said ... (11/26/2007 11:03 PM) : 

What a hoot! I wish my breadmaking experiences were half that funny. If you decide to make TPB a second time with the different flours, let us know how it turns out. :)


Blogger Elle said ... (11/26/2007 11:58 PM) : 

Three flavors!? Rock on Lis! Sorry about the that what caused the smear on the photos...or perhaps it was that billowing are dangerous but delightful. The bread looks super, but let us know how the bread made with AP flour goes, 'kay?


Blogger Dharm said ... (11/27/2007 12:13 AM) : 

Such a nice loaf despite all the misadventures! poor you but it sounds so funny now! Well done on baking the bread. It really does look fabulous


Blogger ... said ... (11/27/2007 2:01 AM) : 

at first I thought there was something wrong with my computer, but now I see that you did it on purpose.
You know I had to come and visit and check out what you did with the tpb..... I love it (as I knew I would)

You're my inspriation.


Blogger Cherry said ... (11/27/2007 2:39 AM) : 

The smudge didn't make the bread look any less tastier! I love the candid and humor in your post, amidst the smoke and finger =)


Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said ... (11/27/2007 7:57 AM) : 

Well done! You can be proud of yourself! Your breads look great!




Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/27/2007 9:46 AM) : 

Hahahaha! I must never read you on a full bladder! You are hands down hilarious! :) Although I do definitely feel for the thumb and hope it gets better soon! Anyways, you came out of all this with some mighty fine looking bread!


Blogger Mila said ... (11/27/2007 11:58 AM) : 

looks so yummy!!!
And you see... there was not to whory in doind bread all by yourself.. it is great!!


Blogger Amanda at Little Foodies said ... (11/27/2007 1:08 PM) : 

Owwwh! I was going to say what Inne said. Well nearly anyway. The olive bread looks great, absolutely stuffed to bursting with olives - yum!


Blogger Half Baked said ... (11/27/2007 2:08 PM) : 

I had the same oven fiasco while completing the challenge. Maybe I should clean my oven more often(ha ha)Way to go injury and all! Your bread looks great!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/27/2007 3:47 PM) : 

Both the bread and the towels are gorgeous, Lis. The smudge took on a life of it's own:)


Blogger Kelly-Jane said ... (11/27/2007 3:48 PM) : 

I think they look swell :) I was definitely in the flat disc in my kitchen!

Gruyere sounds fabulous for the potato bread, I'll give it a go again in the future, and the cheese is going on!

Hope your battle scar is healing :)


Blogger steph- whisk/spoon said ... (11/27/2007 5:06 PM) : 

you made this on thanksgiving morning?? that's some guts right there to tackle your first bread on turkey day. i think your rolls look wonderful!


Blogger Alpineberry Mary said ... (11/27/2007 6:07 PM) : 

My smoke detector was screaming after I opened the oven door to take out my flatbread and put in my loaves. I guess my oven needs a good cleaning!


Blogger Brilynn said ... (11/27/2007 6:50 PM) : 

Glad to see you survived to bake another day! I can't wait to see what you're having us make next month!


Blogger SteamyKitchen said ... (11/27/2007 7:36 PM) : 

poor thumb!

Go Smudge Go!


Blogger Sara said ... (11/28/2007 10:38 AM) : 

i LOVE gruyere! They look great. i also love the smudge - makes them look like action shots.


Blogger iCook2live said ... (11/28/2007 1:25 PM) : 

Lisa, that was hilarious! Thanks for taking us on your journey. All that drama and the bread turned out great anyway.


Blogger Jes said ... (11/28/2007 2:27 PM) : 

You survived! The bread looks lovely, even given the smoke, and the gruyere sounds divine. I miss the days of ritzy cheese. :)


Blogger Cheryl said ... (11/28/2007 2:46 PM) : 

You wounded yourself, had black smoke out of your oven and are now living with a mysterous smudge. Sounds like quite a day at your house. I can't believe you did it on Thanksgiving. You are one tough chick!


Blogger Jen Yu said ... (11/28/2007 3:21 PM) : 

You are too funny. I love the smudge - no one else can do it like you! The breads really look good, just don't TELL people you wanted a boule and no one is the wiser ;)

-jen at use real butter


Blogger Christine said ... (11/28/2007 7:56 PM) : 

Another gruyere variety! It sounds delicious and your rolls look very good. Great job, despite your Thanksgiving Day troubles! And kudos for making this on Thanksgiving Day!

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/28/2007 9:09 PM) : 

Oh! I'm so sorry about your booboo. Hope it's all better. Your bread looks great, Lisa and I loved your rolls, especially the crust on them.

I see more breadmaking in your future ...


Blogger LAmonkeygirl said ... (11/29/2007 2:09 AM) : 

Well--you were wounded, but...nobody died! :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/29/2007 8:26 AM) : 

The gruyère sounds too good! The smudge is a nice touch in the pictures, at least your pictures were different than all the others ;)

I was the opposite of Zen when making my potato bread. Hopefully someday ever I'll make it to Zen state when making bread...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/29/2007 11:10 AM) : 

Mmm... I love the big, shiny craters in breads.


Blogger Julie said ... (11/29/2007 3:54 PM) : 

The Smudge was endearing! I was starting to wonder if you'd realized it was there! And your breads, especially your olive cheese loaf, look fabulous! I'm glad you, your family, and your kitchen survived this challenge. I think you'll rock it out next time you try the recipe. I got my bread to be all pockety, so it's definitely possible! Take care of that thumb!


Blogger Bruno said ... (12/01/2007 12:20 PM) : 


I'm glad you survived your baking adventure! The bread turned out nicely, and, what can I say, the smudge adds new dimensions to your photography!!


Blogger Barbara said ... (12/02/2007 3:00 AM) : 

THe bread looks great. Sorry about the thumb.


Blogger Valentina said ... (12/02/2007 6:00 PM) : 

I love reading your posts because they make me feel as if I am in the kitchen with you. Plus they are so entertaining. Well done on the challenge.; o )


Blogger Jenny said ... (12/02/2007 6:47 PM) : 

LOL! Thank you Lis for making me happier for a good laugh!
And I do hope your thumb has survived its traumatic experience. :-)


Blogger desie said ... (12/03/2007 7:19 AM) : 

sounds like you had fun on your first venture in breadmaking. the bread looked great. sorry to hear about your thumb, i hope it is better.


Blogger Clumsy Cook said ... (12/03/2007 9:07 PM) : 

I find the smudge gives your photos a mysterious, come hither quality. :)

Hope the thumb is feeling better!


Blogger Dolores said ... (12/06/2007 1:25 PM) : 

Lis! I'm up to the L's! I think I've visited almost 200 potato breads. And it's December 6. I think I need to find another approach. :)

I love the passion and the drama with which you approach these challenges... yours is always among my favorite stories to read!


Blogger Kristen - Dine & Dish said ... (12/11/2007 12:11 AM) : 

Oh you crack me up!! You totally crack me up.
Your bread looks awesome. Sorry about the injury!


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