Sunday, January 29, 2012

Confessions of a Mediocre Cook: Our Daily Bread in a Crock

Okay, so you've probably heard about this bread-in-crock thing. I'm a little slow with news flashes. In case you're like me, I'll fill you in. Basically, you mix up a bunch of bread dough, let it rise a bit, and then store it in the fridge to use in the next week or so. One recipe supplies enough dough for several bread needs: pizza crust, rolls, country loaves, sweet rolls, etc. After some research, I opted to give French Tart's (love the pseudonym) recipe a try. I've now made two batches, and here's what happened.

Miss Priss measures the flour.

I read all the comments on French Tart's recipe and printed several of them to help me with my endeavor. I learned I might need to experiment with oven temp and baking times. I also got some ideas on gussying up the basic recipe. With my first batch, I made rolls in a six-cup muffin tin, a round loaf of cheese bread (which was underdone), and cinnamon rolls.

Each time I baked something was a learning experience. I found with each baking that I needed to let my dough rise more than the suggested 20-30 minutes. With the cinnamon rolls, I made them the night before and let the rolls rise overnight in the fridge prior to baking the next morning.

To be honest, after my first attempt, I wasn't sure how I felt about the whole thing. Everything was tasty, but left something to be desired (except the cinnamon rolls, which were fantastic). But I knew I must be missing something because there were so many positive comments on the original website. So I decided to try again.

The remaining two cinnamon rolls. We scarfed the others down immediately.

The mixed dough.

With my second batch, I let the dough rest on the fridge for a few days before I baked anything. Then I tried my hand at parkerhouse rolls. As you can see, I started out with too much dough per roll, because they rose to a massive size.

These look like something out of a science fiction movie.

They tasted pretty good, but still. A few days later, I was tired of having a big bowl of dough taking up so much room in my refrigerator. I pulled it all out, shaped an oval-sized loaf, and set it to rise. I ended up with a gargantuan, flat "loaf" that I almost threw away. Himself said go ahead and bake it and see what happens. So, with a cynical heart, I did.

The blob.

Quelle surprise! The resulting bread may have looked less than I'd hoped, but it tasted wonderful. The several days' rest in the fridge brought out a sourdough flavor, and the crust was baguette-crispy.


I'm still not sure, however. I didn't have as much success as I'd hoped to have, so I'm not sure it's worth the (albeit small) trouble or refirigerator space. Also, I'm not at all certain if I have the heart to continue experimenting with the recipe. Have you tried anything like this? What's been your experience?

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