Monday, July 03, 2006

Baking: Bread+Summer=Ick

Trying to bake bread on hot, humid summer days makes me want to give it up until the first frost. Kneading dough in this humidity is like trying to make bubble-gum behave. I've tried adding less water to begin with. I've tried throwing in the towel and just adding more flour. But alas, bubble-gum always wins. Plus kneading is hot work. Fans are blowing, flour is flying, I'm sweating and gross, my kitchen drops down to the third ring of Dante's hell--not exactly the carefree picture of Betty Crocker to which I aspire.

And is it worth it? Well, actually, yes. Coming home from buying groceries this afternoon to a house that smelled of fresh bread was as close to bliss as it gets.

My newest bread-baking magic trick to counteract the summer gross-ness is making the dough and doing the first rise the night before (when it's theoretically cooler). Then I shape the loaves, cover with Saran wrap, and stick them in the fridge overnight. Since my boyfriend gets up much earlier than I do on weekends, I have him take the loaves out of the fridge and put them on the counter. By the time I struggle out of bed a few hours later, they have proofed nicely and all I have to do is heat up the oven and bake--all before it gets ridiculously hot outside.

Experiment # 1 (last night/this morning) was a success. Still lots of bubble-gum action last night, but I think my kitchen only dropped down to the second ring of hell this morning when I had the oven on. My backup plan is stocking the freezer with extra loaves so when the weather is extra yucky, I can just let a loaf thaw on the counter and go have a mojito on the backporch. How's that for usin' the ol' noodle?!

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