Monday, March 8, 2010

Move Over Nancy Silverton: Homemade Olive Bread

Okay I admit it -- weight does matter.
Last week I was watching some cooking extravaganza on TV and heard the MC say that European bakers are better than American bakers because they weigh their ingredients. I have a scale. But somehow I like the slapdash idea of tossing ingredients into a bowl.
I shouldn't be so lazy.
Right then and there I vowed not to be bested by my unknown European baking companions and set out to test my latest Jim Lahey recipe with my scale. I measured the flour, but I still dashed in the yeast and the salt. I used a cup measure for the water.
In the past when I've posted about Lahey's recipes I've mentioned always needing more water. Not this time. I made a perfectly sticky dough that rose up tall with just the prescribed 400 grams of flour and 1 1/2 cups of water.
This loaf was one of my best. Light, lots of air holes inside, a genuinely crunchy exterior, and a fresh almost delicate texture.
Although he loves olive oil and even the occasional tapenade, James is not a big fan of olives themselves. I thought for sure he would ignore this bread or at best tolerate it as another kitchen experiment he has to suffer through. Instead the evening brought a variety of reasons to wander through the kitchen each time grabbing a thin slice.
Following the rules really does work out better . . . sometimes.

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