For the past few weeks, I have been unhappy with the bread that I offer to accompany the soup. It has been far too dense, not rising enough or doubling itself in size. I have to admit, I have been using an inferior flour, rather than King Arthur, as I hoped to cut costs. When I went back to the book (Jim Lahey’s “My Bread”), I learned that not only was I ruining the bread by using a lesser ingredient, but that I was not adding enough water to let the bacteria and yeast do its work.
This week, I not only added extra water (up to 1 2/3 cups) to adequately hydrate the flour and create a loose dough but I also went back to my beloved King Arthur flour. There really is nothing like it. In about 18 hours each bowl full of dough was bubbly with yeasty air pockets and fragrant with the sour sent of active cultures. As I scraped the dough onto my heavily floured board ( I had to keep adding more), I remembered that the stretchy, flarpy, wet dough makes the best soft loaves with just the right amount of chew. Yes! I thought to myself as I weighed the portions of sticky dough and added more and more flour to keep it from adhering to every surface in sight. This is exactly what I was shooting for.
Now that the loaves are baked with golden, crusty exteriors, I actually feel as if the customers who ordered all the preceding soups got a little ripped off especially if they aren’t getting soup this week along with these well risen lovelies. Well, I guess all I can do is hope that they come back again and that the bread will continue to be as good.