Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We made bread

It started out with wanting to do some kind of Valentine's Day project with Sophie. Jude was going to be away for most of the weekend at a workshop on campus so I thought it would be kind of fun for us to make something that we could then share with him when he was done on Sunday. And of course, being who I am, all the different ideas invariably involved food of some sort. But I didn't want to make candy or chocolate since Sophie can't have most of the ingredients. Then I chanced upon this recipe from the New York Times for No-Knead Bread. Sophie loves bread and I couldn't think of anything more perfectly soulful and heartwarming than baking our own bread for Valentine's Day :)

I've actually never made bread-- something about the whole intricate measuring and complicated kneading intimidated me (and still does, to some degree). But this recipe is brilliant and so fuss-free and easy, a two-year can do it... And so ours did (with some help, of course).

I let Sophie mix all the ingredients together on Saturday:

In goes the yeast
In goes the yeast and salt

Mixing like a champion
Mixing like a champion

I told her we had to wait a day for the dough to rise before we could bake it and she insisted on watching the rising in action. She stared at the bowl for five intense minutes. It was very cute :)

The next day, I folded the risen dough on itself (which took all of ten seconds- I'm not kidding), let it rise one more time under a kitchen towel, then literally threw it into a heated Dutch oven, and into the oven. And the results: thin, crunchy brown crust, large, open holes. The bread is slightly chewy, flavorful and with absolutely perfect texture.

Fresh out of the oven
Quite a thing of beauty

When it came out of the oven, Sophie wanted to cut into it immediately. She was so adorably excited about the bread that "she" had made, she could barely sit or stand still in her play yard as she waited for it to cool. And when I did cut into it, I knew without tasting it that Sophie and I had made a delicious loaf of bread-  the snap and crunch of the crust gave way to tender, spongy body. We sat together at the table, my hands still with traces of flour, and had a wonderful moment of just enjoying the bread that we made together. I had bought some good butter in anticipation of our homemade bread and slathered my slices with it. Perfection. Sophie-- the bread fiend-- had three thick slices. One after another, she asked for more. Plain and unadorned, just as it was. "My bread is delicious, Mama. It's so fluffy!" she declared happily.

So there- Valentine's Day weekend and my daughter and I baked together for the first time. And it was great :)

Bread fiend
Our little bread fiend on her third slice of bread

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