So, here’s the thing guys. I vacuumed my apartment twice in seven days this past week.
That’s approximately…the equivalent of pigs flying.
Or of hell freezing over.
Or of me ever eating animal flesh again.
Or of one of my experiments ever working out in any predictable way.
I think you see where I’m going with this.
To put this in even more perspective, The.Boy. didn’t even know that I owned a vacuum until my mother threatened suggested that she come over last Saturday and I was all OMG-I-LIVE-LIKE-A-HEATHEN, running around putting things in their right places, making sure I had toilet paper, etc.
Suffice it to say…he has never seen this happen before and was in a bit of shock, primarily at the idea that I even know how to use cleaning supplies at all whatsoever. One of us is the tidy person in this relationship and I have pretty much no qualms about telling you that it is not me.
So then you can imagine how irked I was to come home two days later (also known as the day after “The Great Flood“) to this.
Paint chips and pieces of the walls in my kitchen. All over my floor. Surprise.
Because, of course, none of the housing/maintenance people in my building bother to tell you that they’re going to enter your apartment in between the hours of 6:15pm and 8:30pm to turn the space in which you live into a DISASTER ZONE.
I understand that they’re trying to prevent mold. I really do. But I still have to live in my apartment while they do (unless, of course, they want to offer me and the.boy. couples housing which would make my life so.much.easier and if any of them are reading this, consider it a HINT), and sometimes I think they forget that. And didn’t their mommas ever teach them to clean up their own messes?
Tsk. Major tsk.
The bright side of all this is that it made me realize that when your kitchen is approximately the size of a pea, it really doesn’t take that long to vacuum it so it’s not actually as onerous as I imagined it to be.
Same goes for bread baking.
When I first dove into the world of instant active yeast about three years ago, it was primarily in the form of 5-minutes-a-day no-knead dough. Easy, delicious, and served it’s purpose well.
But it had it’s limitations. You can’t really get different textures with the dough because it’s pretty much the same recipe over and over but with different flavors added in.
So I had my brother buy me The Bread Baker’s Apprentice a few years back so I could expand my repertoire. And then promptly never opened it again. Or, I probably did open it, saw that most of the recipes took two days and decided that it was “too hard”. Never mind that the steps on the first day consist entirely of just mixing together flour, salt, water, and yeast and letting it sit overnight in the fridge.
Which takes less than five minutes.
I really wonder what is wrong with my brain sometimes.
Moral of the day: we should try doing the things we think are “too hard” more often. Because probably…they are much easier than we’ve built them up to be in our minds.
And also – make this bread. It’s awesome. The perfect chewy texture and oh so flavorful, so good that it tastes like it’s straight out of a bakery kind of awesome.
And then, toast it and top it with some sauteed greens and creamy delicious garlicky cranberry/borlotti beans. You won’t regret it.
PS – The winners of my Barilla pasta GIVEAWAY are: Commenter #30 – [email protected] and Commenter #73 – Cindie from Cindspectus! I’ll be emailing both of you!
PPS – There’s a super cool event going on at Whole Foods tomorrow that I want to tell you guys about! The Whole Foods Market on the upper west side has recently expanded their wine store! The store will be adding 900 new wines to its shelves, including more local, eco-friendly, and kosher bottles. In addition, it will now offer same-day delivery to anywhere in Manhattan. It will continue to offer case discounts, with 10% off a half case and 20% off a full case. And to celebrate they are having a FREE wine tasting tomorrow from 5pm-8pm. Attendees will be able to hang out with the store’s culinary specialist and taste some of her dishes from around the world as well as some wines to go with them! I can’t think of any better way to spend a Thursday night.
One year ago…Quinoa Chowder with Sweet Potatoes, Spinach, Feta, and Scallions
Three years ago…Apple Strudel Bread
Pain de Campagne (Country Bread)
Makes 3 loaves of various shapes or numerous rolls, adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
For the pate fermentee:
- 1 1/8 cups (5 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/8 cups (5 oz) bread flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 3/4 cup to 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp water, at room temperature
For the pain de campagne:
- 1 recipe pate fermentee
- 1 3/4 cups (8 oz) bread flour
- 1/3 cup (1.5 oz) whole wheat flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 3/4 cup water, lukewarm (90-100F)
- semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
For the pate fermentee
- Stir together the flours salt and yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer). Add 3/4 cup of the water, stirring until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball (or mix on low speed for 1 minute).
- Knead dough for 4-6 minutes by hand on a floured surface or on medium speed with the dough hook for 4 minutes. The dough should be soft and pliable but not sticky.
- Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it so that it is coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temp for 1 hour, or until it is about 1 1/2 times its original size.
- Remove the dough from the bowl, knead it to degas it, and return it to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
For the pain de campagne
- Remove the pate fermentee from the fridge 1 hour before making the dough. Cut it into 10 small pieces. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.
- Stir together the flours, salt, yeast and pate fermentee in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water, mixing until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball. The dough should be soft and pliable.
- Knead the dough on medium speed with the dough hook for 6 minutes (or 8-10 minutes by hand). Sprinkle in bread flour if needed if it is too sticky. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Ferment at room temp for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
- Sprinkle a bit of flour on the counter and gently remove the dough from the bowl so that you degas it as little as possible. Divide the dough into 3 or more pieces. Shape the dough depending on what you desire, or turn it into rolls. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Sprinkle with semolina flour or cornmeal and transfer the dough to the pans. Mist it with cooking spray and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let it proof for 1 hour, or until the pieces are about 1 1/2 times their original size.
- Heat the oven to 500 with a large baking pan on the top rack and a baking stone, if using, in it while it is heating.
- Transfer dough to the baking stone or leave it on the sheet pan and put into the oven. Pour 1 cup hot water into the steam pan on the top rack and close the door. After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water and close the door. Repeat twice more at 30-second intervals. After the final spray, lower the oven to 450 and bake for 10 minutes. Check the loaves and rotate them 180 degrees, if necessary. Continue to bake for 10-15 minutes more. The bread should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom when it is done.
- Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow it to cool for at least 40 minutes before serving.
Braised Mixed Greens and Garlicky Beans on Toast
Serves 4-5, adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, slivered
- 1 lb greens (I used 1 bunch swiss chard and 1 bunch kale), greens removed from their stems and chopped
- handful of sorrel, chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups cooked beans (I used borlotti beans)
- 4-5 slices country bread
- shaved parmesan cheese
- Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the onion starts to soften, after 3-4 minutes, add the garlic. Cook for one minute more, then add the greens and herbs. Season with salt.
- As the greens cook turn, keep rotating them so that they each have an equal amount of time at the bottom of the pot. Once they’ve all collapsed, at 1/2 cup water or bean broth. Lower the heat and cook, partially cooked, until tender. How long this will take depends on the greens that were used.
- When the greens are done, add the beans to heat them through. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Toast the bread. Spoon the greens and beans onto the bread. Garnish with the parmesan cheese.
OMG that bread! I actually hate taking out the vacuum more than the actual act of vacuuming… but mopping is something I will never do!
Oh wow, this is total happy food for me! Love everything about it. Now that water damage however, ugh – that sucks.
This bread! Love love love.
I am really wanting to dive into bread baking this winter… maybe I should take the plunge and get that cookbook, too. Your loaf looks perfect and makes me want to bake some bread this weekend!
So sorry to hear about your apartment, although I raise your paint chips the fact that my super came to fix a clogged toilet (read: plunge it extra forcefully) last week and left me with a splashy mess all over the floor/walls/my hand wash-only bathmat. That was rough. If only I’d had this bread to comfort myself post-cleanup. You know how I feel about toast.
I’ll admit I never chose a yeast dough that took more than a few hours total to rise, then rise again, but I agree, baking bread is not hard at all — plus, you get to play with DOUGH. So it’s like playdough for adults. People need to stop being scared of it! And yes, having a small apartment and kitchen has its pros and cons. Doesn’t take much time to clean, but hardly any space to move! Oh and ps. this looks delicious. like I even need to say that for your food 😉
Hey Joanne, Rob and I are very similar in many ways… including our lack of wanting to clean. He’s actually better than me but certainly no neat freak. I remember during clerkship my parents had the best surprise for me. While I was travelling on electives, I let them stay in my apartment. I came back after Christmas, expecting to return to my messy apartment but instead it was so clean! My parents had cleaned my apartment!!! It was so wicked awesome. 🙂 (sorry to hear about your craziness….) and yay for sorrel! I have only had it once, tasting it fresh from the garden… but when I have a permanent garden, I am definitely going to plant it. I loved its lemony bite. 🙂
Wow, what an awesome recipe! You’ve added such delicious ingredients to it and the bread looks perfecto.
Funny – I just got Peter Reinhart’s book Whole Grain Breads last week, and put it away thinking it was too hard. Reading your blog has made me think I didn’t give it enough of a chance!
HEE! I have no idea how to use our vacuum. It’s one of those hard core Dyson’s that looks like it’s from a World War II movie. My parents got it for Paul…yes, Paul…as a Christmas present one year. He loves it. Thank goodness for him or our house would never be clean.
Homemade brad is possibly the best thing in the whole world. And I love, love, love the greens and beans on top!
Homemade bread is awesome and I love this dish! I hope everything is all cleaned up – how annoying!
Wow that looks really good. I love beans and greens.
When I was single, I didn’t own a vacuum for awhile. My boyfriend would come over and vacuum for me (he’s now my husband…) I still don’t vacuum. But I have an almost crawling baby so I may have to start.
Great job! I can see a lifetime of bread baking in your future, says my crystal ball… (not bad for a scientist, right?)
did you know that I baked my way through that whole book? It’s documented on my blog, although I started blogging when I was on bread number 6 or so (I did in the exact order they appeared in the book)
I am never doing this type of challenge again, but it was “fun”. Sort of…
So glad to know I’m not the only one that never uses my vacuum. It’s partly laziness and partly because I feel like my vacuum never does a good job sucking things up! Luckily my hubby takes over bathroom cleaning duty or our apartment would be absolutely disgusting.
I tend to shy away from bread baking because of the advance preparations…but you’ve made me think that maybe it’s not as bad as it seems. Your loaf came out wonderfully!
Omg, what were the maintenance people DOING in there to make such a mess?? Anyway, I’m glad the Great Flood is over at least. I used to be super neat the first few years after college, then when I went back to school for nutrition, I quickly devolved into my younger self where I used to hide clothes and other things I didn’t want to clean up under the bed. I can’t remember the last time I touched a vacuum …
Your homemade bread looks fantastic!! I’m a fan of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, so I’m glad you gave it another try 🙂
I love making bread, but homemade bread is so good and then I end up eating way too much of it.
i tend to think homemade bread is too hard too..but it’s not. it’s sooo easy. gotta make some soon! sorry about your kitchen. the maintenance people come into the office where i work and do that sort of thing all the time…and let me tell you, it’s annoying to have to sweep paint chips (and let’s face it, probably asbestos) off my desk. sigh.
I made a decision to only eat breads I make myself. So far I haven’t had much time to do so!
Nothing beats good bread and I can’t wait to try this one! And then to keep myself from eating it all! I’ve always hated vacuuming and my hubby does it, thankfully. Sorry about the mess in your apartment and hope all is better! Nothing fun about it, that’s for sure!
That looks like a really good, rustic bread… one that probably tastes better toasted than not. I could eat a couple of these for breakfast!
I still have yet to make my own bread. I wish I have a few of these for lunch!
I’ve been wanting to buy that book for quite some time (said after scanning my bookshelf to ensure that I hadn’t forgotten purchasing it). With the current snow falling down here it feels like bread baking weather.
Free wine tasting makes messy maintenance guys a little easier to take 🙂 I am definitely the messy one in my relationship as well, thankfully my husband is a clean freak!
First, I can’t believe you aren’t tidy… I figured you would be for some reason.
Second, I really wish I had one of these toasts because I don’t feel well and I think these would make me feel better.
Wow this recipe is just so fancy-sounding! I am impressed, Joanne! And maintenance men and allowing access to one’s home to a bunch of dirty dudes who make a mess is pretty much the worst feeling ever!
It seems to be not only rather tasty, bu healthy as well. A great variant! I’d like to share a useful article for students:
Recipes & Ideas for On-Campus Cooking
I am so jealous that you live in a state that can sell wine in grocery stores! I wish Tennessee would get with it!
I am twitching with excitement over the possibilities of this recipe! That is a good sign that my green smoothie challenge is starting to run it’s course…I am lusting after bread again and what bread! I need…no I NEED to make this bread and top it with that melange of garlicky chard rich beans! I have everything in the garden coming together at once…the rainbow chard is perfect in it’s jewel like rich intensity and I even have the borlotti beans growing and I can pick them luxuriously fresh to make what can only be seen as a triumph for the tastebuds…Joanne…I think I love you! ;)…seriously though, this looks CRAZY good and I am going to enjoy every single bit. It is even raining and cold today here midsummer in Tasmania and I can light Brunhilda (our 4 oven wood stove) to make that amazing bread…I am in love with the processes and promise of this recipe 🙂
I could imagine eating this quite a bit my friend, it looks delicious 😀
For the bread, I wonder if using the French baking terminology is intimidating for some people? I mean, “pate fermentee” more or less equals “sponge”, right? Hmm. Anyway, your bread looks wonderful, and I could definitely get into a big plate of beans and greens right about now! Maybe this needs to happen in the next few days. 🙂
I agree that many aspects of cooking are easier once you get practiced at them, but while I have to vacuum my office twice a week and the rest of the house once a week (old house) to avoid being smothered by dust kitties, I will never, NEVER enjoy cleaning. And it ALWAYS takes ^%$&^#&ing longer than it is supposed to take!
I would totally eat this for breakfast lunch and super until the loaf was gone. True story!
I married a neat freak. Let’s just say that we have butted heads on that topic often. But hey, throw a toddler into the mix and suddenly he relaxed on it a bit haha. Now this bread looks fantastic! I’d gladly dirty my kitchen to make a batch of this!!
The joys of apartment living sometimes….. I love that you made the bread AND the topping. Both look delicious and very yummy together.
Once upon a time, I was a neat freak and still I get anxious in the midst of chaos. I stay anxious a lot lately. Your food looks delicious. Could you send me some for lunch tomorrow? Please? 🙂
Ugh, so annoying when people don’t clean up after themselves in your own home! They changed the light fixtures in my bathroom once and left sawdust all over everything on my bathroom sink, I was not impressed! Anyways this bread looks fantastic, I need to make bread more often!
Nothing beats homemade bread! Especially when smothered with garlicky beans. Elevates the beans on toast idea to an entirely new level of love!
No matter what goes on in your life your sense of humor is grand my friend!! This all looks so good, but just throw me a slice of bread and I would be happy!! 🙂
I love Peter Reinhart. I actually was a recipe tester for one of his books, which was a major SQUEE! My biggest problem with making bread is that I am incapable of not eating the entire loaf straight out of the oven lol which is why my bread baking has massively slowed down. Looks great…
So, so sorry about the water in the apartment. Those things feel like such a horrible intrusion, and they just make your home feel less like a home. Hope everything settles down soon and you have a lot of this leftover to eat while it does.
i’ve been meaning to add more bread making to my life, but i’m all like “ehh, too hard.” this is seriously the kick i need to actually do it! such a great recipe!
Builders are universally not good at cleaning up after themselves! Did you know you can get a robotic vacuum cleaner. Great bread recipe Joanne 🙂
I am a cleanliness freak,my little one keeps me on my toes. I actually vaccuum four times a week.huh!! Hope all settles well for you. Your bread looks great. I wud love to have some toasted:)
I am exactly the same on the “too hard” thing. Bread is still in it. So are a lot of other things that are probably really easy! Thanks for the reminder – and visual proof 🙂
I feel the same way about bread breaking – it always sounds more laborious than it is.
I wonder when can I ever convince myself to bake? I rather do the next task I hate most out of all household chores – vacuum!!!!
I’m a huge fan of the no-knead bread, but I’ve also been thinking I need to venture into new bread territory. This sounds like a great recipe to start with!
Joanne, I love how much you love your greens. We are on par with greens love, and that just makes me smile inside 🙂
oh I hate vaccumming – though my place is small enough that it doesn’t take long – luckily! but the bread sounds delicious – it sounds tricky but I should give it a go because these sort of breads can often wait if you have a screaming child to deal with 🙂
That’s what I used to hate about renting – that they could come in anytime. I came home once and my front door was standing open. They were rewiring something in all the apartments, but it was still disconcerting.
My late father loved to bake bread and I have his hand carved bread kneading bowl. You inspire me to maybe finally use it.
Mmm, mold doesn’t give them the right to enter your appartment without prior notice and of course they should try to do as less mess as possible. Anyway, making the bread is the perfect way to calm youor nerves and it looks absolutely mouthwatering!
ouch! I wouldn’t like anyone entering where i stay at any time without informing me first!
But hopefully, the bread is enough to calm u down and welcome your mum!
Can’t believe that they entered your apartment without giving you at least a phone call?
The bread looks beautiful!
Yum to all of the above Joanne. I think in my apartment since they put a note on my door 3 years ago, that gives them permission to come in anytime since:D
You make those chocolates irresistible. I bought some on your recommendation. Can’t wait to try them (I mean share them)!
oh man, what a pain! i hate seeing my just cleaned place messed up so shortly after all that work. i just mentioned how great it was so be able to vacuum so easily in our place too, we have a teeny little nj apartment.
LOVE that bread, and love what you did with it! i need this for lunch stat!
haha vacuuming is the worst. I have to to do it way more than I want to since I’m a crazy cat lady (free in May!!!), but when water strikes…..you got to cleaaaaan! Hope everything is sorting itself out and you’re back to normal soon. Thinking of you sista!
That’s how I am with bread. I have the best intentions and then see that it would take two days to make and don’t bother. I really need to plan ahead.
I love the sound of the garlicky bread. I have my mother coming over for dinner on Sunday night and let me tell you, I’ll be running around with the vacuum before she arrives too xx
Great moral, Jo. I will def. be looking into that bread it does sound divine. p.s, I’m the crazy person obsessed with vacuuming (I know, I know) =)
How is it that the maintenance people can just come into your apt. unannounced? Is it because it’s student housing? Regardless, it’s just not right.
The bread looks amazing as does the end product. Greens, garlic and homemade bread…mmmm. 🙂
Yay free pasta! 🙂
I hope that is the last time you have to deal with unannounced maintenance (at least for awhile!). There was a leak off our roof into the fire escapes that turned to an icicle wonderland over the weekend. All of us called our maintenance guy to say “heyyy, in case of fire, our fire escape is a sheet of ice and icicles, this needs to be fixed” and he just ignored us. Rude. I guess there is no middle ground!
Ooh Joanne this is so beautiful! You are so creative with veggies…I really need to take a page out of your book! Also- ugh about the paint chips and grossness. I’ve been dealing with that sort of thing on and off for years…NYC!
my comment telling you about the robotic vacuum cleaner disappeared! damn and bugger 🙂
Yum… that looks delicious and wholesome.
Well, not being tidy is a good thing for a grad student. I AM a tidy person, and it drives me crazy when I have to read for class…and can’t clean my cupboards 🙂
I love that you made your own bread – it always seems to intimidating, but it’s actually not. The greens and garlicky beans are right up my alley.
I love making bread! Sometimes it’s wonderful and sometimes it’s a disaster. There’s so much to learn. What a wonderful topping you made for yours!
Nothing like a visit from mom to get the apartment into tip top shape. Sounds like this hassle-free bread was just the ticket!
This is definitely a bread recipe to keep. Will definitely try it. The topping looks so delicious. I could eat this for all three meals in the day.
bread is about as easy to make as it is to say i’m just going to buy a loaf. except one tastes much much better 🙂 this looks great!
on a side note, i also hate vacuuming. guess who got that job! 😉
Sorry about the disaster zone! I generally don’t vacuum that often, although I have all these food crumbs around the photographing zone. Ugh.
Anyway, homemade bread – is there anything better?!
Way too funny story Joanne! Shared it with my guy too and he got a great chuckle too . . . ‘the boy’ can come and clean my house any day, since I don’t think you’d oblige! You’re right, I’ve got to jump into something I fear so much . . . baking homemade bread. Dunno what’s wrong with me since I jump right into making homemade pasta! Duh! saving this recipe to help me take the plunge!
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