Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

More Bread


I had to take two of my children to the doctor this morning for their yearly physical and it was…horrendous.   Hellish, you might say.  One child threw epic fits over the least invasive/scary and most painless tests you could have at the doctor’s office – the eye chart and the hearing screening.  Epic.  We ended up leaving the clinic without completing the last one because the ragged gasping, nose running, hysterical crying she was doing wasn’t getting any better the more time went on.

Over the hearing test.


I have decided to divest myself of all responsibility for any medical related things for this particular child.  I let the husband know that I’d take care of 2/3 of our children, but he’s on his own with the remaining 1/3.  That seems fair, right?

I have also decided to take a day off of baking because it’s just now afternoon and I feel like I’ve been up and going for an entire day.  I’m hoping the family can coast by on the remaining two loaves of bread (plus a lackluster loaf of sandwich bread) until I no longer feel like running down the street screaming.  In the meantime?  How about some pretty pictures?

Earlier this week I checked out Ken Forkish’s “Flour Water Salt Yeast:  The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza” because while I’m perfectly happy with Peter Reinhart, have you seen the pictures in Forkish’s book?  I don’t own a dutch oven (cast iron or no) and I’m not planning on buying one anytime soon so I can’t speak to his bread recipes, but I can speak to the pizza.

Up until now I’ve been using a recipe from my vintage ” Joy of Cooking” that includes a bit of olive oil in the recipe and we like it well enough.  It’s an easy mix and I don’t have to think any further than two hours ahead, but it’s just ok.  It’s not spectacular by any stretch of the imagination.  But Forkish’s recipe?


Reader, it’s out of this world fantastic and about as good as a home baker is going to get sans fancy pizzeria oven.  He leverages a long ferment (and the tiniest bit of yeast) into a crisp and chewy end product.  The only pizza crust I like better is Ian’s in Madison which is doubly appreciated because I don’t have to make it.

As I’m sure you’ve gathered, I’m the primary cook in our kitchen.  I don’t know how this happened since the husband is a passable cook in his own right and more than capable at following a recipe.  I, on the other hand, can be a bit…scattered and tend to cook like I write:  frantic and absent-minded.  Before we had children meal preparation was a side by side venture as we’d get lost in the process before enjoying the end result in the comfortable sort of companionship found in new relationships.  Somewhere along the way, though, meal preparation became my thing and the husband took over watching the kids.  Still, there are some meals that I save for his days off when I need an extra pair of hands.

I can (and do) make homemade pizza all by myself, but I’d rather be in charge of the dough while someone else takes over the toppings.  Typically, if I leave the husband on his own, it’s more about how much cheese he can get on the pizza.  This time I was able to restrain him just the slightest bit with a “less is more” kind of approach.


I even gave him a little tutorial on how to get the pizza off the wooden cutting board and onto the pizza stone in the oven which he easily got the hang of on the first shot.  By the third pizza we were a well oiled machine.  (Yes, we made three pizzas.  You’ve met Groceries, right?)

In addition to the five pizza crusts I made a few days ago (two of which are waiting in my freezer for our next pizza night), I’ve also been keeping up with the family’s demand for bread.  Since the last time I posted I’ve made ten additional loaves.  You saw the first loaf.  The husband the kids ate loaves two and three and my mom got loaf number four.

IMG_1370Pictured here are loaves five, six, seven, and eight which my family ate last night for dinner along with the most satisfying onion soup.  Oh, and when I say family, I really do mean the husband and my children.  I had a reasonable two pieces while some of my family probably ate their own loaf.  Loaf number nine disappeared today with breakfast while numbers ten and eleven sit on my kitchen counter.

Rest assured, dear reader, they won’t make it past tonight for if my husband’s whistling and singing last night are any indication, I may have found my calling.  As my mom pointed out today, it’s fast becoming a part-time job.  I’m going to need a bigger mixer.

8 thoughts on “More Bread

  1. I’ve been trying to resist returning to bread baking as I drool over the pictures of your loaves, but the pizza picture broke me and I plan to get Forkish’s book.

    • lol…Well, there’s no harm in looking at pictures, but it does leave one’s stomach empty. I borrowed my copy from the library as I’m still trying to decide if pizza crust alone is enough to buy it. It really is a lovely book regardless and Forkish has a wonderful story as corporate employee turned baker!

  2. I am hung up on making a simple Cuban bread for me and Mark. I did 2 loaves this morning.
    On the pizza dough- when I make some I like to turn the oven into a brick oven by adding firebrick to the bottom of the oven, removing the racks first. I then heat the oven to 550 with the bricks in. I oil some foil and place the dough on top of that and then toss in the oven and bake about 8-10 minutes.
    This is a fun way to get help- I like to do this with a small crowd and have them all bring a topping and then top their own.
    Keep up the bread- you are making some real beauties.

    • Cuban bread, huh? Please do share!

      I think your pizza technique (and accompanying party) sounds like lots of fun! I do something similar for ours, although I keep the racks in and use the Pampered Chef pizza stone I bought a number of years ago when I was a consultant. Someday, if money is ever no object, I’d like to look for a home oven that gets higher than 500 mine goes to presently.

      Thank you for your kind words!

  3. Ok, gotta try it. I’ve been using Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough, and while it is divine, I cannot get the hang of the whole 24-hours-in-advance thing and end up using Giada’s considerably inferior recipe, just because I have it memorized. For two years I made every bit of bread my husband and I consumed, and it was wonderful, so I really enjoy seeing your bread posts. Makes me want to crank up my own oven again (a toddler WILL throw your bake off).

    • Sadly, while Forkish’s pizza crust takes less time, it still needs somewhere around 7 (or 8?) hours from start to finish and I pulled ours to stretch a bit shy of that because I’m impatient and the kids needed to eat. I also quarrel a bit with Forkish’s instructions to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes prior to stretching it. I find room temperature dough much easier to stretch, but YMMV. You can nudge things forward a bit with various preferments, but the bulk rise will still take time. I think it would be better to carve out some time when you have help (or maybe one of the few days when things are humming along quite nicely). You can work through the process from start to finish in whatever quantity best suits your family. You can have dinner that night and then freeze whatever you have left for another day.

      I’ve been known to work up 7 or 8 crusts when I had time, stash a couple in the fridge for the next day (or later that week) and then freeze the rest for a quick-ish meal. Take the dough all the way out to the ball stage, spray a little bit of pan spray in a plastic zip top bag, and then put the ball of dough in that. Squeeze out as much of the air as you can before sealing the bag and putting it in your freezer. Then all you need to do is pull down the quantity of dough you need a day or two in advance. Put it in the fridge to defrost. That night, pull the dough bags out, get them shaped nicely in balls, and follow through with the final rest before stretching and baking.

      I understand how it goes, though. Children will throw you off for far longer than you anticipate, although sometimes it’s worth it to let things fall apart around you at least for a bit while you do something particularly spectacular to remind you that this phase will not, in fact, last forever. :0)

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