First let me just confess that I am a Slashfood junkie. It’s the time toilet that satisfies my cooking/kitchen gadget and food in general. The other day, I was taking a dip in said time toilet, and came upon this http://www.slashfood.com/2008/09/08/red-wine-currant-bread
Now, me being me - I save the widget in my cell phone for easy recipe reference when shopping at the grocery store and don’t really read through the whole process, just add it to the ‘must make soon’ category of my kitchen adventures. This should learn me.
Fast forward to yesterday.
I got out of work after only about 14 hours, and was headed home, I was craving carbs (which could be a blog all its own) and the recipe popped into my head. I cruised the grocery store picking up the items listed, when it hit me: this would prolly taste wicked awesome with kalamuta olives in it. I rolled into the bulk bins to pick up my wheat bran, when the next recipe deviation thundered in. Next to the walnut chunks, there is a bin of - get this - salt & black pepper dusted cashews. (Do you hear the trumpets sounding from heaven as well? or is it just me, who thinks this sounds unbelievably awesome?)
Just incase my kalamuta and black pepper cashews don’t work out as well as I had hoped I grabbed extra yeast packets for the bread machine - I was going to conquer the carb craving if it killed me.
I get everything home, toss it on my butcher block and go out to my cellar to look for a bottle of wine to sacrifice for the purpose of this recipe. I want a lot of color, and a lot of flavor, so I went with a 2005 Miro Petite Sirah. http://www.mirocellars.com/ note to self: bring Miro some bread so he doesn't kill me for using it to cook with.
This is when I actually startd to read the recipe and it’s now that it dawns on me that I have to not measure, but weigh out most of the ingredients. This irritates me, and is prolly the #1 reason, I don’t do much baking, but prefer the non-exact science of cooking, where a pinch of this, and a dash of that is all you really need to accompany the ability to cook to taste. It’s not that I don’t own a food scale - I do. I just don’t want to work that hard.
I should also disclose the fact that in the kitchen, I tend to have many of the same urges and thoughts as Tim Taylor on Tool Time. bigger. faster. hotter. = better. >>insert a lot of male like grunting and chest pounding here<<
First, I grabbed the bread machine a friend of mine gave me a few months ago - it was going to get its maiden voyage right here and right now and that voyage was going to be christened with redwine. I dumped in everything in the recipe, but in the quantities the instruction book said for a 2 pound loaf. The liquid has to be warm, (75-87 °F) so I pour the wine in a pan, stick it over high heat, and count to about 45 seconds while sticking my finger into the pan, so not to get it too hot. Pouring the wine in, slamming down the lid, and pressing the buttons. Beep beep beep.. in 3:50 I’d be done.
So now I had like a half a bottle of wine left, and really nothing to do but wait. I returned to the recipe, and figured I’d give it a go the traditional way as well, and compare the two loaves.
So I got out my scale, and began to work. 3 hours into this (with resting for both the dough and myself) and an absinthe cocktail for my hard work, I was ready to pop the batards into the oven. I still had to figure out how to inject steam in there though. A quick search of slashfood helped me out - I did the pan trick (did I mention I heart slashfood?)
Then I set my timer one last time, sat down to my new book, and waited. After 10 mins I flipped my loaves and let them cook the rest of the way. About 5 mins after I pulled my batards out of the oven, my bread machine beeped telling me my -not-so-instant-but-a- lot-less-work version was ready.
I popped them out and looked at them side-by-side. The bread machine’s version was actually prettier, my hand crafted batards looked artisan and a little oddly shaped (practice I suppose makes perfect) - cutting into both of them, they were delicious, moist, and red wine tangy and both are an amazing accompaniment to chunks of blue cheese. (not a bad thing for breakfast if I do say so myself… ) The only slight disappointment for me, was that the cashews came out a little softer than I would have liked, they don’t hold up as well as walnuts do, which I suppose is a learning curve for next time.
In future, I’d prolly forgo the effort of making the bread by hand (thus making my strange shaped loaves a moot point) and opt for using the bread machine just for the sake of ease.
Although, if I was making this for a party, I could possibly be convinced to give the hand kneed method another try.
If I remember tonight when I get home, I'll take a photo of each and post.
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