My favorite color is green. But when I'm feeling stressed or down in the dumps, I really like yellow, especially yellow flowers. They're great for cheering me up. Daffodils are my favorites, but I love yellow tulips as well. And yellow roses smell the best (and were my mom's favorite, part of why I love them). Besides flowers, another thing that often makes me feel better is baking. It's fun to make things for us to eat or to give to others.
It also helps to have others to pull me out of whatever funk I've fallen into. That's actually what prompted me to make this bread. I was stuck at home with a sick kiddo a couple weeks ago, and my friend Kayte suggested (via Twitter) that I make bread with her, since I was home anyway. Besides my bread baking adventures with the BBA Challenge, I've joined a new group, called the Mellow Bakers. It was started by Paul of Yumarama, in part because he finished the BBA Challenge and was looking for something new to do. The forum includes information on the start of the group, as well as boards for the monthly breads. The recipes are chosen more or less randomly from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread, three each month. The great thing about this group is the whole "mellow" part--members are welcome to do as many or as few breads as they like. You can blog about them, or not. Everyone is encouraged to share their experiences so we can all learn from each other, but it's a very laid-back environment. In other words, perfect for someone like me, who wants to bake more bread, but isn't always sure when or how much time I'll have to do it!
So far, I baked one of the April breads (Rustic Bread), but haven't had a chance to blog it yet. I want to bake the other two (Bagels and Light Rye), but haven't had time. When Kayte asked me about baking something, I was already thinking about mixing up the preferment for one of May's breads, Corn Bread. It definitely helped to have her give me a bit of a push, though. (Kayte's baking along with the Mellow Bakers unofficially for now. I'm trying to convince her to be "official" since we are mellow, after all.) I was feeling frustrated with the whole dilemma of balancing work with the needs of my children. The prospect of baking--a yellow bread, no less--with a friend, definitely cheered me up.
The dough is pretty straightforward to make. It uses a poolish to add flavor. So before I went to bed (around 11:00pm), I mixed together equal weights of water and flour with a little bit of instant yeast. Things tend to rise quickly in my kitchen, and by about 7:00am the next morning, the poolish was threatening to escape its container. So I stashed it in the fridge until I was ready to bake later that morning. To compensate for the cold preferment, I warmed the water a bit, but I probably didn't need to. Across the board, my times were shorter than those indicated in the book, which is typical of my kitchen--my bulk fermentation was 45 minutes, fold the dough, then 35 minutes more. I shaped the dough into two batards. I love the shaping diagrams in this book--they've helped me a lot! Rather than trying to transfer them from a linen couche, I place the loaves seam-side down on a sheet of parchment paper on the back of a sheet pan. The loaves proofed for just under an hour. (I started preheating the oven after the first 30 minutes.) After slashing them, I slid the loaves onto my baking stone, parchment and all, then poured hot water into a steam pan (the bottom of my broiler pan, placed on the floor of my oven). I rotated the loaves after 20 minutes, and baked them for a total of 28 minutes, at which point the internal temperature was 198F.
The verdict? I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I really like this bread. It has a lovely color, and I like the texture of the crust. It's not my favorite for things like sandwiches--it seems a bit dry to me--but it makes excellent toast. It smells a little bit like popcorn when you toast it. =) It also worked well as makeshift pizza. =) Brianna liked it well enough to ask for some in her lunch (always a good sign). If you'd like to try this bread for yourself, I highly recommend that you get a copy of Bread for yourself. And if you like bread baking at a mellow pace, join in the fun over at the Mellow Bakers forum. You can read about the other members' adventures with Corn Bread there.