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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Parking Lot Bread

Last weekend found me attending an event called The NorCal Brethren Bash, wherein a bunch of us who have met on a BBQ forum called The BBQ Brethren gather, meet each other face to face and cook and eat ridiculous amounts of food. One of the interesting things that happen at these events is that folks who might otherwise stick to regular meats and preparations start to experiment, learn new techniques or just get new insights to what other folks are doing. It also happens, that we end up cooking in a parking lot. I decided to make bread, sausage bread (the test run was posted here).

I started a week ahead of time, by making a simple poolish of commercial yeast, 1/2 cup honey pale ale, 1 cup warm water and 1/2 cup AP flour. This was allowed to sit on the counter for a week, lightly covered with plastic wrap to prevent flies and dust. I feed 2 tablespoons of flour to the poolsih every day, along with 1/4 cup chlorine free water. Something about cooking at remote sites when you are not organized or thorough, you forget things. Like yeast, measuring cups, spoons, scales and a pizza stone. No matter, who needs to measure?

So, I arrive and start to prepare the dough, realize I have only 2 cups of one week old poolish and loads of flour, a large bowl and some bottle water and kosher salt. I do have a recipe, but, of course, since I do not have a scale or cups, what does that matter. I start with what I think is 2 cups Bread flour, 1 cup AP flour, 1 bottle of water and the poolish. Mix until stiff, add a little water, little flour, more water, more flour, soon I have been mixing and kneading in the bowl (apparently the only piece of equipment I felt I needed, that and an oven pan). Eventually I end up with what looks like bread dough. Proof for 15 minutes. I retuen to see it is rising, time to really knead. I use a method that requires kneading for 5 minutes, resting for 2, repeat 4 times. Yes, 20 minutes of kneading, in a parking lot, on a folding table. I then let it rise, in a cool spot, covered in an oiled bowl for 4 hours.

Meanwhile, I started the smoking of 1 pound of Italian sausage. I also diced up a couple green and red bell peppers, a medium yellow onions and many cloves of garlic. These all went into the oven pan and got smoked for an hour. Low and slow veggies get so sweet and aromatic. I crumbled the smoked sausage and mixed with the vegetables.

After four hours of the second rise/proof, the bread dough was spread out, a healthy layer of stuffing and cheese were added and the dough was rolled onto a loaf. A stupidly large loaf that was nearly 3 feet long. It was beautiful, excpept it would not fit onto the cooker. Dang! I had to hack my perfect loaf in two.
It was cooked on a Big Green Egg Large, at 350Fish, since I am not really a baker, who cares about perfect temperature, it was somewhere around there for most of the cook. It did take a while, almost an hour until I got a couple of these off the cooker.
It sure looks like bread, it sure smelled like bread. I wonder...the biggest issues I have seen with stuffed breads is that the stuffings add a lot of moisture inside the loaf, which can affect the texture, often giving bread a sense of being undercooked. Not desirable. The particular process, even horribly mangled like I did this time, results in a very elastic texture, a crisp skin and a moist interior that seems to not be affected by the stuffing. I actually love this type of bread, it reminds me of the best San Francisco breads of my youth.
This bread was really a successful cook for me, despite rampant lack of organization, the bread was perfect in texture and had a wonderful flavor.

1 comment:

  1. I guess being organized and having your mise en place is overrated! Looks great!