One of the most enjoyable parts of ADHD is the pairing of the unpredictable, whimsicle, serendipidous direction of one’s interests and the ability to hyperfocus. The result, at least in my life, is that I am what I call a “serial hobbiest.” (Lest you think we hyperactive sorts have the market share, Attic Man is the world’s most hard-core serial hobbiest). All it takes is accidentally stumbling upon a website you went to for one reason but started reading for another (like my affair with Size Acceptance after finding Kate Harding), or hearing a great lecture, or in the latest case, having to tighten the budget.
We love having pizza on Friday nights, but there is no good pizza in IC. There is kinda sorta passable pizza, but nothing that is worth the wait and the price. We went the frozen route for a few weeks, but after suffering through overcooked crusts, soggy centers, and weird-tasting sauce, we became deeply depressed about the situation. Around the same time Attic Man’s foot-tapping about the fact that the bread machine had been sitting unused on our kitchen counter taking up lots of precious space since we moved in became deafening. So I started hunting the internet for a good bread machine recipe. I tried one, had great results the first time, then six mediocre loaves later, I realized that the only way to get consistently good results was to chuck the machine and do it myself. I’m home all day at least three days a week (short trips to the park and the library notwithstanding, which one can do between rises) so bread-making fits well into our schedule. But I was more depressed about the pizza. I did what my mother taught me to do, except with the internet, and read and read and read and read about how to make a good pizza. I poured over recipes, discussions of oven temperature, pizza stones, breaking your oven’s safety latch (really!) to get it up to 800 degrees, brick ovens, how not to make sauce (don’t cook it; it will cook nicely on the pizza and taste much better)…on and on for a couple of weeks. The first attempt was passable, the second reasonable, and tonight’s? Well, I still have a long way to go–it didn’t get the nice oven spring I was looking for and was too chewy by far–but we gobbled it up in ten minutes flat with no leftovers. It was a sorry sight, misshapen with uneven thickness. But the flavor was amazing. I’d have pictures if it hadn’t gone so fast!
Somewhere in all that reading I drifted over to bread-making blogs and websites and I am now a complete addict. The sandwich loaf I made earlier this week was so good that Attic Man has decided store-bought bread is no longer necessary for his daily sandwich. This is a big victory. It was a pretty loaf and I do wish I had photographed it! It had a lovely golden crust and a nice open crumb. Not perfect, but far better than anything I’ve ever made. I grew up learning to make bread the old wrestle-and-knead way, which does produce a nice bread, but artisan bread-making is just so much more fun and interesting. It’s amazing what a little technique-tweaking can do for the flavor and texture of your bread. A simple autolyse–letting your flour and water sit in the bowl for twenty minutes after mixing, but before kneading–develops the gluten without overworking the dough; creating a “mother dough” or sponge the night before yields a much better flavor (this is the best method of pizza-making, except that the mother dough is the whole dough, with nothing added the next day); cranking up the temperature of the oven and adding steam gives you a nice crust. I am excited to try out some of these techniques working off the basic recipe. The plan right now is to make the basic sandwich loaf on Saturday for sandwiches, then bake an experimental loaf on Wednesday, working on one new technique per week. I am really looking forward to what comes out of the oven each week!
One modification I’ve made to my breadmaking is that I am no longer militant about it being 100% whole wheat. It is very, very difficult to get a great loaf without having some white flour. I would rather have a delicious bread with the added fiber and nutrition of a 50 or 33 percent whole wheat loaf than a sad, dense one with 100%. I am going to be sparing about doing 100% white because that is straight sugar to your body, baby.
What are you experimenting with these days?
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