Saturday, February 21, 2009

i'm no martha......

Our church congregation has an annual chili cook off. This year, with my stretched schedule, I volunteered to bring bread. I figured I could make it ahead and put it in the freezer without too much stress. I really enjoy making bread and do it often.

But alas, last night after arriving home rather late from a few errands, I realized that the cook off was Saturday evening and guess who was working at the store all day??! Yes, that would be me. So I made a plan to do it early in the morning. EARLY. 5:00am early.....not my favorite time of day, and really not my favorite time of day considering that I didn't retire until about 2:30am Friday night, or Saturday morning to be correct.

I set the alarm for 5:00am and had my ingredients ready to go the night before.

5:00 came rather quickly, but I arose and mixed the dough, kneaded it and set it aside to rise. I took advantage of the early hour to have a nap during the first rising. Everything was looking great and on schedule. I began the daily primping routine during the second rising.

This particular bread is one I have continued success with and it is always a hit at any function, as it is a huge round loaf (hardly a typical loaf)! and will feed about 30 people. It is called Sheepherder's Bread and comes from, you guessed it, Charlotte Jane Hunter Petersen, my darling mother. There are a few tips that ensure a great end result and I thought as I rubbed my tired eyes that early hour of the morning, how great a documentation it would make. As I said, it is one impressive "loaf".

After the dough is kneaded, it is shaped into a smooth round ball and put in a well -oiled dutch oven. It is important to spray the lid heavily as well.

This bread rises for the third time in pan (heavy dutch oven) with the lid in place.

When the dough pushed up the lid about a half an inch, it is ready for the oven. The bread begins the baking process with the lid on for about 12 minutes. This creates a beautiful brown crust.

After 12 minutes, the bread looks like this in the oven, and the lid is ready to come off. It is a bit tricky to take the lid off without deflating the tender dough. (You can see why the lid must be well-oiled. I use Pam.
All was going well, the delicious smell of baking bread waifed through the house as I continued to get ready to leave for work. The timer went off and I went in directly to take the bread out and take it out of the pan. Usually, this is an easy job. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself with the photo documentation to this point. I could just imagine how the photos would show step by step the process and the end result is a monument to bread baking!

You can just imagine my utter dismay within seconds of taking it out of the oven, when I realized that it would NOT come out of the pan.....suddenly that sacrifice of the 5:00 hour was nothing by a source of irritation at best! I've made this bread successfully hundreds of times! What the? Why today, when I would not be home all day to retrace my steps and produce the desired beautiful bread art???

I tried every trick in the book to release if from the pan, and when I had finally completed the task, this is what I had to show for my 3 hour very early morning adventure.....

I cannot stress enough how thoroughly you must spray the pan and the lid. So sad, sad, sad, sad, very sad, so sad, SAD!

I threw a tea towel over the hot steaming bread and left for work, feeling the frustration of failure.

Reviewing my options, upon returning home from work, I decided that I would tear the bread into large pieces. Wouldn't that be how sheepherders would eat it? They wouldn't have a knife for perfect slices! I had no choice and began to tear large chunks off of the two split halves.

I then decided to post a disclaimer (!) and serve it in the largest dutch oven I have, I thought it appropriate for the presentation.

So, here is the final outcome. Not what I intended, but pretty darn good for sopping up chili.

Tomorrow, when my frustration is far behind me, I'll post the recipe for you. I highly recommend it. Don't under use the pam.


michelle said...

Very very frustrating indeed! I can't imagine getting up at 5:00 to make bread. I am consistently impressed with the way you make time for church service, even with your busy life.

Good save, Mom. It looks exactly like the right kind of bread for sopping up chili!

shannon said...

The bread was delicious--my friend! The sacrifice of getting up so early made it all the better!

I had to laugh at the contrast of your fancy little disclaimer and the tooting jokes that were being told...too funny! Just to see the look on your face was priceless! tee hee

You are definately no Martha!... You're 50 times better! I've never known anyone with more class than you...

sleep tight--

Jill said...

I've had that bread at Michelle's house and love it!

I would NOT have set my alarm for 5:00 in order to do this. I would have bought something instead. You're amazing!

It's unfortunate that it ripped apart like this, but I love how you rolled with it and made it your sign and everything.

emily said...

I'm so sorry that your bread didn't work out as planned, especially after making such a sacrifice. Baking is so satisfying if the end product is as desired, but if not, it can be quite frustrating.

Way to go with the flow and make do!

Bond Girl 007 said...

ohhhhhhhhhhh Susan, I was soo excited following the photos...and I did not even think of the title...because I have seen this bread on Michelle's blog....and then my heart could it be...the wonderful thing is that you styled it up...and there is no better breat to scoop up chilli than a huge tasty bread wedge...! You are truly one remarkable woman. I was thinking a couple of years ago, I was asked to teach how to do focaccia...and I had done it a hundred times, well, the yeast was old or I don't know when I went wrong, but it did not rise....I was soo tasted good, that was the good part! but the artisty part of me was sad, that it did not look as good as it should......

kjsheff said...

Your bread was delcious and Scott and I were commenting on how good you are at presentation. I am laughing out loud at your poor mishap. You definitely have learned how to take every problem and make it look beautiful. We would have never known.

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite breads to make- I think Michelle posted the recipe a long time ago? It is so pretty and huge and fun to take to family parties. The first time I made it, I sprayed and sprayed so it came out beautifully, but I did not bake it long enough! The very center was a tad soft, but still edible. I love how you tore it into chunks, a woman after my own heart! No need to waste that 5am effort by going to buy bread!

Charlotte said...

This was so funny to read! (I don't know how I missed reading this when you posted it forever ago.) Oh the perils of 5 a.m. baking. . . . I like your silver lining: sheepherders would eat it in chunks, so what's to say we can't? :)