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Baking Brilliant Bread--Maybe, Maybe Not

For Christmas Matt and Tom gave me a book from the runner-up of  The Great British Bake Off, entitled "Brilliant Bread." James Morton, a young medical student from Glasgow, is the author.

The book is lovely to behold, with gorgeous photography, however there's one problem for me--all the measurements are metric. So what's an American baker to do? Well, get out a pad and paper, figure out the grams/ounces, and use a scale!
In the introduction he suggests you work your way from the beginning so that's exactly what I did.
The instructions tell you to mix the dough with a wooden spoon, letting it rest for 30 minutes, followed by a mash down, and another round of "proofing," or what us older folks call rising. Except, after the 30 minutes, I discovered that there were undissolved yeast particles. Not a good sign. Getting out my dough hook, in a break from the recipe, I used the Kitchen Air for about two minutes to mix it all together. Using the adorable hand screened kitchen towel given to me by J & A, I let it do it's thing for another hour.
Following that rise, it was time to shape the loaf. Using the book as I guide, I did my best:
Eventually I got it shaped, letting it rise for yet another hour. I somehow managed the slashing, which always gives me fits, and using another gift, I baked it on the pre-heated pizza stone that I bought with the gift card Bill gave me from William Sonoma. A lovely stone it is.
Looking pretty good, here is the finished product:
So, it looks mighty good, however, the taste not so much. It was entirely too heavy and bland for my tastes. What I calculated to be 4 cups of flour for one loaf, seems too much in my opinion. That said, while baking bread anything can go wrong, and only experimenting, and practice can make it right. Perhaps my flour wasn't right, perhaps my conversions were wrong, any number of things. To whit: who am I to argue with a reality show contestant?? Next time, there's always next time.

In other news, I took the camera out the other morning on my ride, playing around a bit with the settings. Ferncreek boat ramp like you've never seen it before:
Yep, a gloomy, foggy morning made even more so with the Awesome Artistic or whatever it is called! Just as I was ready to hop back on my bike, a couple came walking down the ramp with their two chocolate brown labs for a swim. I know, swim? Anyway there's a setting called, "freezing animal action" I was anxious to try out. Asking their permission, I gave it a go.
Those dogs had so much fun, chasing the toy and returning victorious to their owners.

Later that day it did get sunny, much to my surprise, and there was actually a sunset to photograph using the star filter!
The lake lot is once again overgrown, not so much as in the warmer months, but still, the grass is getting high. Just ask Baxter:
Friday night, following dinner, we visited with Matt and Angela for about two hours. Matt is doing so well, it is simply amazing. As newlyweds they gave each other nicknames with Matt being called "doggie" and Angela, "duckie." Thus, I bought a doggie for Matt who seemed to like it just fine.
Can you even believe he had a golfball sized tumor removed from his brain only five days prior?? The bandage is behind his left ear. His recovery from surgery is miraculous, and now the challenge is treatment. As a young man of 26, when he first had surgery for brain cancer, the follow up was complete brain and spine irradiation. The good news is, it kept the cancer at bay for 18 years, the bad news is, can his brain tolerate another go round of radiation without loss of function? Of course there have been great strides made in the above time period, making everyone hopeful that pinpointing the radiation this time will do the trick. Only time will tell, but this much we already know, his spirit is remarkable!

Another cold front, another gloomy day. I think I'll head back into the kitchen for another attempt at "brilliant bread." I'll let you know how brilliant this one turns out!
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