I finally got a chance to bake Zak’s cardamom bread posted in Barbara’s Tigers and Strawberries blog. The recipe measures are by weight in ounces. I don’t usually weigh ingredients – I’m a bit casual with measuring when I make bread. So much of it is by feel. But with new recipes, I try to follow the instructions exactly.
I have two kitchen scales; neither is accurate enough to measure ½ ounces. So I had to convert the recipe to grams. And still neither scale is really that fine so I confess I did a little bit of estimating (157gm flour is tricky to see on a smallish scale that only has markings at the 10s). I used unbleached allpurpose flour rather than bread flour and because I didn’t have any spelt on hand, I used whole wheat flour.
As Barbara mentioned, the sponge did creep up overnight through the dry ingredients. (Very cool! I love the aliveness of yeasted dough.) I don’t have an electric mixer… I had a little difficulty mixing in the dry ingredients using our wooden paddle. The dough was very much stiffer than most bread I make. So I dumped it all onto the board. And after 15 minutes of hand-kneading, the dough was silky smooth. Really silky. I can’t say that I was overwhelmed by the smell of cardamom though. In fact I couldn’t smell any spices at all – it smelled like good bread dough, just not particularly spicy.
Shaping the bread was a snap. Did I mention that the dough was silky?! I put the shaped boule into a floured basket (about 9inch diameter across the top). At the time for baking, with trepidation I flipped the basket over onto a parchment covered peel. Yikes! The basket didn’t come off immediately. I jostled it a little and it popped off leaving a delicate pattern of itself imprinted on the dough. I’ve never had a whole lot of luck with sharp knives or razors for slashing so I used kitchen shears to cut a small eight pointed star at the center. And into the oven it went.
After 40 minutes of baking, I poked our instant read thermometer in the bottom and was happy to see the temperature shoot up to 210F. I placed the beautiful boule on a rack and listened in amazement to it crackling as it continued to finish cooking. I still couldn’t smell any cardamom – T claimed he did. All I could smell was recently baked bread and the freesias in a vase on the counter. And the bread really was beautiful! It looked almost exactly like the photo on Barbara’s post. (Really, we must get a camera!)
We had the bread with chicken soup made with rice instead of noodles. T stir-fried some green beans and threw those into the soup as well. Delicious soup!!
And how was the bread? Well, it was darn good. But Barbara was right – I should have used bread flour instead of all-purpose. The crumb was on the soft side – it was good, don’t get me wrong – it just wasn’t quite as chewy as we like. We also couldn’t perceive any of the spices in the bread. It was as if I hadn’t put any cardamom, allspice or ginger in at all.
Will I make this again? Definitely. But next time with bread flour and maybe a bit more wholewheat. And I will definitely be proofing in a basket again! Very cool. Thank you Barbara for the new recipe and method!
We still have half a loaf left and are going to have it for breakfast toasted and spread with soft goat’s cheese and red currant jelly. I have a feeling that it will make stellar toast. (Hmmmm, EoMEoTe is coming up, isn’t it??)