Purrsonally, I think we look ameowzing! Our shadow selves came along too. On cloudy days, they shy away from walking with us.
The FatMumSlim photo-a-day prompt for today is "The view from here," and so I was on the hunt for something to fit the theme. It explains this photo:
And this one:
But not this one...you know I just like barns.
Also, I like cattails. These are actually growing in a drainage ditch, overflowing with water from the six inches of rain we've had the past week.
Here's another shot of the lake that's grown up in all of that wet weather.
Here's another attempt at "The view from here."
And when I took that shot, we were almost back to our cars. You can see the storm brewing off in the distance, and it started raining (hailing, in fact) just after I got home. Like I said, we're charmed. I'm sure of it.
Okay, so I've been a bread-baking fool ("fool" being the operative word in this sentence) for the past couple of days. You already know how my efforts at apprentice bread-baking have gone. I'm going to say I'm at about a 50:50 success to failure ratio, which isn't that great. For today's effort, I've been trying the Sourdough Beer Bread recipe recently published on the Breadtopia website. And I don't know a thing about beers, but the Breadtopia guy used a "milk stout," whatever that is. I couldn't find anything in my grocery store labeled as a "milk" stout, and so I chose this "oatmeal stout". It's brewed by a company in Eugene, which I considered a plus.
Besides, oatmeal is good in bread right? And then I read the label:
And, well, "divine" and "vanilla, coffee, chocolate . . . decadent and delicious" all sounded pretty good to me. And for sure, I want to "perpetuate better living," and so this seemed like a good choice. It's a dark beer, and it made a very dark and wet dough.
As for my efforts at bread-baking to date, I've been blaming my kitchen for being too chilly, and blah, blah, blah. Recently, I had a "bread doh!" moment (like that?) and realized that perhaps it had nothing to do with cool temperatures. I'm thinking specifically of this sad loaf of sourdough I baked a while back.
I wanted to make sure it had risen to Mt. Everest heights, and so I gave it a proofing time that was extra long by leaving it overnight. When I looked at it the next day, it had risen all right. In fact, it was just slightly concave in appearance. I started thinking it had risen past the point of good taste, and then fallen in on itself. (Mt. Mazama turned Crater Lake comes to mind.)
So my "doh!" moment came just a couple of days ago when I realized that it is possible to overproof bread dough. What that means is that the yeast has given its all. For the bread to rise, the yeast needs to produce gas. If it's completely spent and worn out (poor little things), the bread will not rise...nor will there be any "oven spring"...nor will there be anything other than a bread dough pancake when you're all finished. (Please see Exhibit A above.)
Well, yesterday, I planned very poorly, and I had this whole overproofing thing on my mind, and I realized that my bread dough was going to be ready to bake at around 2:00 a.m. And since I'm trying not to overproof it, I didn't want to make the same mistake of letting it sit overnight. So, with that in mind, I got this great idea to put it in the refrigerator at some time to get around this, um, scheduling problem. Only, then, I had no idea how this was best accomplished.
Using all the resources available to me (books, Facebook bread-savvy friends, Google), I decided to give it its bulk proofing time until about 9:00 p.m. (which amounted to about 7 of the 12 hours it needed), and then put it into the refrigerator. When I got up this morning, I took it out of the refrigerator and let it rise while Sue and I walked. When I got home, I shaped it and gave it its final proofing time. It was supposed to be an hour, but mine took two hours to show any signs of life. I'll skip the part about the gnashing of teeth to say that I took it out of the oven just now, and....
Bee-utiful! Even if I do say so myself. And I do. I have to wait an hour to cut into it, and so I don't know what it looks like on the inside yet, or how it will taste. I'll report back tomorrow.
While all of this has been going on, I've also mixed up another batch of dough for brioche. I couldn't give a rat's pitooey about the brioche. It's the French toast I'm after. I shared the previous three loaves with the kids. These three will be mine, all mine. It takes about half a loaf to make French toast for the two of us, and so I see plenty of French toast opportunities in our future. It's going to be a good couple of months.
So there you have it. Now, I think I'll take a nap. All this walking and baking and persisting have me plum tuckered out.