Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Random Recipe Wednesday: Lemon-Fennel Cottage Bread

While the Internet is a great recipe resource I've more recently found myself lost in the pages of a good cookbook or magazine.  Not everything can be found online.  Lately I've been testing an awful lot of recipes straight out of cookbooks.  I'm not quite sure how the copyright aspect works so I haven't been posting them here.  Sometimes I think I can only tell you about recipes I've changed and developed, but that's silly, like a musician only playing songs he wrote himself.

I'm currently loving The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book.  As in I'm actually reading it page by page, not just flipping through to glance at recipes.  There's just so much practical information on bread baking.  I get this dorky, excited sparkle in my eye as I digest the wealth of knowledge in every chapter, as if someone were sharing a vast secret with me.  A thorough understanding of the hows and whys is the key that unlocks, well everything.  Okay, maybe not everything, but it gives you the power to create and fix and improve to your heart's content.  Plus, everything about making bread just feels so...right.

Since I can't post the copyrighted recipe here, I'll just tell you about this loaf. (For the recipe and fail-proof instructions check out The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book from your library, renew several times, then finally give in and buy yourself a copy.)  I've been planning all along to post a recipe for a yeast bread made with cottage cheese.  When I got to the chapter on dairy products and read the recipe for a lemon-flavored loaf utilizing cottage cheese, I just couldn't resist any longer.  Later I saw a lemon-fennel loaf and knew I had to try the flavor combination.  The cottage cheese, which completely disappears, gives extra rising power while boosting the protein and calcium in each slice.

I was super impressed with the texture of this bread.  It was soft and tender with a fine crumb, but not so soft that your fingers or teeth left indents when making or eating a sandwich.  The bread was firm enough to make thin slices but wasn't hard, dry or at all crumbly.  You could have fooled me that the loaf was 100% whole wheat, it had a texture more similar to a partial white/wheat loaf.  This is likely due to the 20 full minutes of kneading by hand and 3 separate rising/proofing phases.  Well worth the wait in my opinion.  I could go on forever about bread, the whole process is so therapeutic.

Anyway, if you want in on the whole bread making experience (and the comforting satisfaction that comes along with it), I'd highly recommend The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. It's an indispensable learning guide to bread making, whether you're a beginner or a pro.  It's also about as close as you can get to having an expert bread baker standing next to you in the kitchen.  Years of experience, trail and error are crammed into the pages of this book.  I think I'd be nearly perfectly happy if I could bake bread every day for the rest of my life.  Sigh.

Food for Thought:  "Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory." -Mahatma Gandhi 

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