I don’t know if it was nervous energy, spring excitement, boredom, or just an extreme carb craving, but for some reason the urge to bake possessed me recently! I started with the trusty recipe for boule from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you missed the original post, you can catch up here.
Then I tried a new recipe from the same cookbook. Thus far I’d been so pleased with boule I hadn’t branched out, but it was time. With the addition of butter and eggs, I created challah dough. (I forgot to add the honey called for in the recipe, but it didn’t end up making a difference–at least not that I noticed.) From that dough, I shaped little beignets.
That only took half the dough, so I went ahead and baked the remaining dough into two loaves of challah, which went straight into the freezer once they cooled, because we did not need more bread on the loose!
But meringues couldn’t hurt anything, right? I had some egg whites left after another recipe that called for only the yolks. The whites needed purpose. So I gave my mixer the mission of building some character into them.
While I waited for that to happen, I processed white sugar into a homemade version of caster sugar, which would soon sweeten the meringues.
The idea is that you need finer sugar so it will easily dissolve into the meringues, preventing a grainy feel. Granulated sugar is on the left, while granulated sugar after a few good whirls in the food processor is on the right. It’s not actual caster sugar, but it’s finer than when I dumped it in there.
Hours and hours later, here is what emerged from the low-temp oven. (I let it cool after baking all that bread: the meringues needed just 200 degrees to do their thing, and extra time drying in the cooling oven after it was turned off.) What divas….
And since man cannot live on bread (and cookies) alone, I made a little dinner while I was at it: pan-seared chicken breast and a Mediterranean chopped salad. Bright tomatoes, cool cucumbers, kalamata olives, feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper might not add up to a truly seasonal meal, but the lightness seemed fitting for spring.
Of course, that kitchen storm left my least-favorite sort of aftermath. No, not indigestion–a sink brimming with dishes.
On the plus side, I have so many things in my freezer now that I won’t need another baking marathon any time soon! Here’s to working ahead, even if there’s a formidable mess to clean afterward. The payoff in bread products will be my lasting reward.