Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bread Baker's Apprentice: 22/43: pain de Campagne

Sometimes, playing catch-up after years of inactivity means you end up with two posts about The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge, back to back. Taking my last post, on pain à l'Ancienne, and today's entry together, it's like this blog's equivalent of two for Tuesday. 

Kind of. 

Only instead of two Steve Miller Band classics, it's Reinhart breads. Frankly, I don't know which is more freaking awesome.

So this pain de Campagne was the last of the Bread Baker's breads that I baked pre-hiatus. I recall that it was very delicious, as are the vast majority of Reinhart's breads. When one makes the pain de Campagne, one has many shaping options. One can form it into boule, bâtard, baguette, even a scissor-cut épi. I decided to select the lovely fendu, a technique in which the baker uses a rod of some sort to press a deep crease down the length of the loaf.

All was well and good as I began shaping the soft, pliable dough.

The loaf looked beautiful as it began its final proof. 

But when I returned to the kitchen an hour later to bake the bread, the rustic and charming crease had risen right out of my pain de Campagne.

So I ended up with a fat, featureless loaf.  

You know what, though?

Fat, featureless loaves taste just as fabulous as their artisan-crafted kin. Toasted up with a knob of Irish salted butter, the pain de Campagne spoke of the pompatus of love.


The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge asks that we do not share Reinhart's recipes. Which is not a big deal to you, dear reader, because you already own the book. Turn to page 195 and let me know if your fendu is more successful than mine.


Previously on A Stove With A House Around It:

One year ago: tomato-water spaghetti
Two years ago: sharing Babushka's homemade Polish fare over at Why CLE?
Three years ago: quinoa with caramelized onions
Four years ago: Jane Howard's phenomenal hot cross buns
Five years ago: ultimate soft and chewy chocolate chunk cookies

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bread Baker's Apprentice: 21/43: pain à l'Ancienne

The last time I wrote about The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge (the seemingly never-ending quest to bake all 43 recipes, in order, from Peter Reinhart's most excellent The Bread Baker's Apprentice), it was May 14, 2011, and I was proclaiming the superior toast qualities of Reinhart's exuberantly-named multigrain bread extraordinaire.

A lot has changed since then.

On May 14, 2011, Australian singer Danii Minogue resigned as a judge on The X Factor. I mean, it's been almost two whole years since Dannii Minogue was a judge on The X Factor! Lady Gaga was a week away from releasing Born This Way. Captain Jack Sparrow was on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, in an issue that also included a preview of fall television pilots (Charlie's Angels, something called Good Christian Bitches). (Clearly, a Google search of the big arts and cultural news of May 2011 turns up, well, results that are anything but compelling.)

A review of my Facebook timeline from May 2011 shows that at that time I was busy drinking beers, taking care of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, visiting zoos with a small child, watching Roxette videos on YouTube, and discussing the Lisa Marie Presley cover of "Dirty Laundry" with anyone who would listen.

Eh, maybe that much hasn't changed.

So, it's been awhile since I've checked in with The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge. It's also been awhile since I've checked in with Reinhart, for that matter, though I do make his light wheat bread relatively frequently. Though the months and years have escaped me, I have always wanted to finish the challenge. It's been nagging at me, a yeasty voice calling out of the dark recesses of my pantry's flour bin, beckoning me to finish what I started. Truth be told: I did bake a few more of the breads before my excessively long hiatus, but I never wrote about them. One of those breads was the pain à l'Ancienne. I didn't mean not to share it...

...but then I found myself up against the recipes in the book that utilize a wild yeast starter, which I did attempt. But my wild yeast starter failed spectacularly. I researched a few additional methods for getting such a starter going, but before I could get around to it...well, here I am. Older. Wiser. Wider. The mother of two children, not just one. And still wild yeast-less. 

I now vow to restart the challenge. Even if all of the other original bloggers who originally picked up the challenge back in May 2009 either finished long ago or similarly gave up, shipwrecked on the rocky shore of a failed wild yeast starter, well, I persevere. 

I am going to finish this, and I am going to eat some more awesome bread while doing so.


The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge asks that we do not share Peter Reinhart's recipes. Do you have the book? You really should; I'm just saying. The pain à l'Ancienne recipe begins on page 191.


Previously, on A Stove With A House Around It:

One year ago: tomato-water spaghetti
Two years ago: writing about delicious Polish food over at the Why CLE? blog
Three years ago: quinoa with caramelized onions
Four years ago: fregula Sarda with roasted zucchini, ricotta salata, and olives
Five years ago: pasta e ceci alla Romana

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I am smitten by the sight of this crispy little chickpea, cradled in a singular al dente orecchiette.

Know what else is beguiling? A wee round of fresh mozzarella, cradled similarly.

Just about anything that ends up in a tiny pasta cup has me at hello. (Something else that has me at hello, apparently: references from movies that were released in 1996.)

Orecchiette with kale, mozzarella, and chickpeas just might be perfect, at least for me, at least for this moment. It fires on all available cylinders: it tastes amazing, it includes cheese, it is healthy (kale!), it involves my very favorite foodstuff, it has ingredients that spoon each other like I spoon our 10-month-old puppy late at night when I need to feel cozy.

I love this dish, Husband loves this dish, even my two-year-old cannot refrain from snacking upon the crunchy chickpea bits. Regardless of how you feel about spooning -- culinary, canine, or otherwise -- I urge you to make this dish as soon as humanly possible. You will be smitten, too...putty in its bewitching pasta and legume embrace.

More spooning


Adapted from "Food and Wine"

You could absolutely use Swiss chard in place of the kale, if you wish, or any dark leafy green, really.

1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. coriander
Kosher salt
Freshly-cracked black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 c. canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1/2 lb. orecchiette
1/4 c. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 lb. kale, stemmed and leaves coarsely chopped
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (or you can use the teeny tiny fresh mozzarella balls, which I can find from time to time in my grocery store)
8 large basil leaves, torn

In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, coriander, and salt and pepper to taste. 

In a large skillet, heat 1/4-inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle the chickpeas with the cumin mixture. Discard the oil and wipe out the skillet. Try not to eat all the chickpeas while you prepare the rest of the dish.

In a large pot of salted water, cook the orecchiette according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 c. of the cooking water.

While the orecchiette cooks, add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the kale and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Add the pasta and the reserved cooking water to the kale mixture in the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring until incorporated. Add the tomatoes and cook until they're just warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add the mozzarella and basil and toss to combine.

Spoon the pasta into bowls, sprinkle with the crispy chickpeas, and serve. 

Serves 2 hungry people; 4 rational, moderate people, though I wouldn't know anything about that.


Previously, on A Stove With A House Around It:

One year ago: tomato-water spaghetti
Two years ago: guest-blogging over at Why CLE?
Three years ago: quinoa with caramelized onions
Four years ago: fregula Sarda with roasted zucchini, ricotta salata, and olives
Five years ago: pasta e ceci alla Romana