My other superpower

My other superpower

 

 

My other superpower, besides nonexistence, is baking bread.

I have not used a recipe for years. I do it by the feel. Give me liquid, flour, yeast, an oven, and something to put the dough in and you’ll have bread by and by. I usually add a fat as well, generally butter but maybe not. If you don’t add a fat the crust will be lovely and crackly but the bread will not cut very easily. Think of a day old baguette (no fat), and how that falls apart compared with a croissant (lotsa fat, still falls apart but in a pattern).

 

I often feel sorry for my mother in teaching me to cook. She was, by nature, a throw-open-the-cupboards-what-are-we-almost-out-of innovator. But, she felt it was her duty to teach me to measure and to follow a recipe in order, and before you even do that read it all the way through.

 

Today, I usually just throw open the cupboards.

 

In leftover articles, they tend to focus on stews and casseroles, but bread baking is also a good way to use up that thing that is not enough for another meal but too much to discard.

 

The tricks are to not overwhelm the flour, and to know the properties of the leftovers.

Don’t panic, this is really easy.

In general, you want to replace no more than half the flour with leftover whatever. What qualifies as whatever?

These can be substituted for the bulk of flour:

Pumpkin puree

Mashed potatoes (or sweet potatoes or turnips)

Oatmeal (or any leftover breakfast cereal)

COOKED rice from your take out (increase yeast a bit if you use rice)

 

These can replace the fat of butter

Sour cream

That great dip you made too much of (quacamole, onion dip, cheese dip) (NOT salsa, has to be a fat based dip)

 

These can be rolled in:

Leftover chopped veg

Leftover chopped meats

Seeds or nuts (add grated cheese)

Rolled in breads should be consumed right away, as chopped veg or meat are only yummy on day 1.

Oh, I nearly forgot: The principal worry I hear from people hesitant to make their own bread is that is takes too much time. It DOES take time, but it need not take YOUR time. Most of the time is rising, and you are not directly involved in that.

A really light and luscious bread will have two risings (you can do one, but two are better). So depending on when you are home, you can have it rise overnight, or while you are at work, in the fridge. Really.

It evens out, the cold of the fridge makes the yeast work more slowly, but you are away for at least eight hours (probably) if you let it rise while you work or sleep. If you do it this way, just let the rise happen with HALF the flour the recipe calls for.  That way, you can add warm (room temp) flour for the second rising and the rising will not take too long.

I get up early, so I start the bread before going to bed, let the second rising take place while I shower and dress the next moring, and read while it bakes.  (PS If you are in a hurry, make rolls instead of loaves because they both rise and bake faster. There’s a reason those awesome cans of premade things tend to be a dozen single servings.)

 

 

 

So that’s my low-waste, high nutrition bread.

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