It has been far too long since I last baked bread. Last winter I got into a nice rhythm of baking my weekly loaf which continued even when I was living in Fort Lauderdale during my training sojourn. Somehow, that habit fell to the wayside and I relied on the addictive Seeduction Bread from weekly visits to Whole Foods. Perhaps the post-holiday mentality is taking over. I crave the wholesomeness of bread baking once more.
The wholesome feeling is not limited to the taste of homemade bread. It’s the entire experience of kneading dough, watching it rise, and smelling the yeasty aroma wafting from the oven. I crave the connection between me and a loaf of bread from start to finish.
I had the choice to make a plain sandwich loaf. But why go for simplicity when a recipe all pumped up with sundried tomato, Monterey Jack, cheddar, thyme, olive oil, and cornmeal was calling my name? I adapted Dan Lepard’s Polenta Crust Tomato Bread into eight dinner rolls. Four of them I slashed with a decorative cross and four were left untouched. They all baked into mahogany crispy crust perfection but the slashed buns opened up to reveal the cheesy tomato-tinted orange interior. They beckoned like none other….
…for a game of tic tac toe. Who says playing with my food is a bad idea?
Well, it is of course a bad idea. Before the game was done, I already impatiently torn into one of the buns. I marvelled at the intensity of flavour and the vivid orange crumb. I loved the smell which oddly reminded me of Subway restaurant (thank you Italian Herb & Cheese). It was not cheesy but the grated cheese made the buns a little flakey. I ate it plain even though they would be perfect for sandwiches.
Later in the evening, I found myself flipping through Short & Sweet in search of more bread baking recipes from the limited ingredients I had at home. The Apricot Wheat Germ Loaf is a perennial favourite and I had to summon every once of self control to stop myself from baking. If there is one lesson I learned last year, it is to never start baking bread at 11pm. Otherwise I can say farewell to a good night’s sleep.