One of the main questions that I get asked about the blog is whether it feels like a chore. Not “how do you get such great photos?” or “why are you so funny?” or anything else vaguely flattering. I’ve previously explained that while I do feel a sense of oblogation* it’s generally one of those things I neither look forward to nor dread. Like work. I just do it,
occasionally often feel stressed while it’s happening and then bask in a sense of smugness and satisfaction once it’s done.
This week, however, the looming blog deadline felt a lot less like a boring day at the office and more like a self-imposed death sentence. I had zero desire to spend either day of my weekend baking, and this was such a strong conviction I knew it on Thursday.
Unfortunately, the bread baking enterprise does not favour the short cutter. It is extremely hard to find a decent-looking recipe that is also ‘quick’ in any helpful sense of the word. I contemplated brioche, which lets you split the work over two days, but decided I didn’t want to have brioche at the end of it. This presents a real obstacle when it comes to making brioche. I thought about trying to make a nice healthy loaf with lots of grains, but that involves buying assorted things that are kibbled and need soaking and that sounds like even more work than the bread itself. The word ‘kibbled’ I find especially troubling, and I hope to live through another few weeks without learning what it means. I reviewed all the recipes I had bookmarked and saved, and thought that this Schiacciata sounded exotic, but then I quickly spotted the phrase ‘as tedious as this sounds’ and balked.
Finally I saw this cheesy herb pull-apart bread. I am a well-documented fan of the stuffed bread (see: calzone, pides, breakfast buns, pecan buns) – lots of room to hide behind cheesy fillings and, in this case, a dipping sauce for added protection. Aside from that, this recipe had a few other features to recommend it. The listed kneading time is extremely short (I lengthened it, but still). There is a single prove and it’s just one hour. Those two factors make for a recipe suitable for a weeknight meal, provided no one is overly hungry at the start of the process. For those of us (me) who worship at the altar of simple carbs and consider cheese a Beyonce-level deity, this bread offers a most-tempting Uber-eats substitute for Friday-night dinner.
Unfortunately, my first instincts were correct. There are no short cuts in bread making and this cheesy mirage turned out to be too good to be true. Maybe a single rise was one too few. Perhaps my cavalier decision to substitute their drier herb fillings with a more oily pesto derailed everything. Or perhaps it was the fact that this recipe wants to make two tiny loaves in mini-tins that are absolutely not in my pantry so instead I made one loaf in a tin not quite twice the size of the mini ones suggested. Maybe I didn’t cook it long enough. Certainly, the bread that I pulled from the oven was less fluffy, pull-apart heaven and more soggy crackers stapled together with melted cheese and pools of pesto. Regardless of what or who is to blame, I’m annoyed, because I’d actually kept a record of my ingredient quantities and method so I could write up my official creation, all smug and satisfied.
I do still find myself satisfied, in the sense of being incredibly full. Smugness has had to be shelved for today. The reality is that cheese, pesto and tomato sauce are very delicious together, and if the glue that combines them is a series of simultaneously soggy and crunchy slivers of ‘bread’ then…well…it’s a perfectly acceptable thing to plough through messily with your (unbearably supportive) partner and literally no one else.
I explained to Maitland that I had royally botched the whole exercise, and his response was “who wants to get it right when getting it wrong tastes so good?”
Feelings of duty to this specific blog, first defined in Task 14: Monkey Bread.
“I have an oblogation to write Bready Set Dough every week even if no one reads it because I take myself too seriously”