4Bs – wild rice & onion bread

BBBuddy Badge may 2014.jpg

Three of those four Bs would be the Bread Baking Babes, a group of women–a dozen of them, I think–who have been baking together over the interwebs for quite some time. One of the group is the host kitchen each month and gets to choose that month's recipe. A nice idea and a fun way to share info, tips and bread-y camaraderie. While the group is fixed, they do invite others to participate as Buddies–the fourth B. The idea is that the you bake that month's recipe, blog about it and share your blog link and photos with the host kitchen. I found out about the 3Bs from good ol' Karen's Kitchen Stories, one of my favorite blogs. Have I mentioned that a dozen or so times? I don't know if Karen baked this one, but she has participated several times in the past–beautiful breads every one.

Since I'm baking my way through Flour Water Salt Yeast for the next few months, I thought it would be nice to mix it up, so to speak, and throw in something from left field. So here I go with this month's BBB entry from Karen at Bake My Day: Wild Rice & Onion bread from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. A number of the BBBs adapted the recipe but whenever I make something for the first time, I like to stick to the original so I can get a feel for what the author intended. It's a benchmark for me if I decide to noodle around later.

Day One: First thing is to cook the wild rice which I happened to have on hand (phew). It cooked up perfectly in my Zojirushi rice cooker. I puffy heart my rice cooker. (You'd think rice would be simple but nooooo… Somehow, I always manage to cock it up. But no more!) I let it cool for a bit while I took a break and scrubbed about a bazillion pots in the garden (my tomato seedlings are screaming to be transplanted). Back in the kitchen. Everything gets tossed into the same bowl at once, there's a brief mix and a 5 minute rest, at which point the dough looks like a mess. Shaggy dough! I hauled out the Assistent for this one. I LOVE this mixer but I'm still training myself NOT to go for the KA as my default–a hard habit to break since I've had that thing (and I'm NOT knocking it) for almost 35 years. It's just so much easier in the Assistent, especially with the open bowl. No constant raising and lowering, no twisting yourself into knots trying to add ingredients NEATLY while the mixer's going. Plus, it's a freaking powerhouse. But I digress.

After a short mix to fully incorporate all the ingredients, the shaggy dough gets dumped out for some hand kneading. (Whenever I mix dough in a machine, I always try to end with hand kneading, so I like this bit.) Five minutes later, I had a smooth but slightly sticky dough, exactly as described. And then it's into a Cambro for a 24-hour rest (or more–up to four days–if you prefer).

Day Two: 24 hours later, out of the fridge comes a big, poofy bucket 'o dough. It's still a bit sticky so I kept my hands lightly floured as I shaped two batards. Two BIG batards. Temps were on the cool-ish side so it took about 2 hours to proof. Which would have been the ideal time to pop them into the oven, except for the fact that I'd just baked my Forkish bread for the week (I'm still working on that damned Forkish project post) and the oven was CRANKED to 475 and I needed 350. So I opened the oven door to cool it down…and cooled it too much. (Insert a string of bads words here.) These breads were definitely hitting the over-proofed stage so in they went, regardless. Fingers crossed.

The aroma was divine and I could hardly wait til they came out of the oven. Unfortunately, because of the over-proofing, they never really got a GOLDEN golden color, and they didn't have that egg-washy shininess, mainly because I forgot the egg wash (duh). I wasn't sure what kind of oven spring to expect; these rose, but the batards were definitely on the flattish side. Could be that pesky over-proofing again, or just the nature of the bread. I managed to wait about 15 minutes before I had to taste a bit. It called to me, like the Sirens. Honestly? That first taste? Meh. I was BIG TIME disappointed. But if ever there was concrete evidence that it pays to wait til the bread is cool before diving in, this is it. Because once cooled, this bread is AWESOME. And with a bit of cheese? Even awesomer. The crust is on the soft side (over-proofing again?), the crumb is moist, creamy and light–and light is certainly NOT what you'd expect from a bread filled with onions and wild rice. I didn't even have a chance to get some good photos before Mr. Shaggy Dough Story grabbed one loaf and carved off a hunk with the delicate touch of the Hulk (hence the rather sunken batard in my pix, dammit). And he loved it. LOVED it, I tells ya. When Mr. SDS offers a comment–without being asked, begged and pleaded–you know you've got a winnah! I always bring the second loaf of my breads to share with my co-worker/friends and I can't wait for the feedback on this one.

So thanks, BBBs! I appreciate the opportunity to participate and to try something I may not have chosen on my own, and I hope I've done you proud.

Follow-up: MAJOR win! Everyone loved this and I've been instructed that I WILL be making it again.