She took extensive notes, I noticed, dragging me around to all of her favorite haunts and patches, and it hit me: Her life is a fully unfurled panorama of joy. She can't be bothered with anything that doesn't interest her, and everything she manages is designed to add to her moment by moment goal of immersing herself in pure joy. She wakes up at noon, poops exactly three times a day, pees roughly fifty. She bites me softly when she becomes overwhelmed by how much she loves me, takes long walks along squirrel-crowded boulevards, and flops down in an exhausted heap when all of this good life gets the best of her around 2 p.m. She has the perfect life, even more perfect now that she gets to eat countless slices of stale sourdough slathered with organic peanut butter so that her human slave can feel at least a little frugal with this whole baking thing. It's one thing to scrape starter into the bin twice a day, but my dog will gain twenty-pounds before I toss out one sliver of bread.
I want my dog's life, but for some reason I've convinced myself that I can't have it. Listen, don't get me wrong, I am staunchly aware the perks of being part of this two-legged race. All I'm saying is that I think we can get a little sidetracked by the immense responsibility of being human and forget that it's also part of the job description to regularly indulge in hedonism. If that weren't so, Deepak Chopra books and yoga wouldn't be such desperate pursuits. Think about it. It's almost as though we feel so guilty about doing things for sheer pleasure, that we have to hide our pursuit of it behind swamis and good health. I just think unadulterated pleasure accepts no compromise. We don't always have to twist ourselves in knots in order to relax. We are allowed to lounge around once in a while in yoga pants without actually engaging in the sport.
Human beings, we parade our big old brains around like we are the cream of the animal kingdom, abandoning our joy in favor of practicality, when more primal creatures are the ones who really have it all. They don't have to go to work, oh what I would give... They have zero expectations, they let things slide with ease, and they are pre-absolved when they plant their noses in perfect strangers butts. Not that I want to shove my nose in any butts, but I would like to more fully invest myself in guiltless joy instead of laboring over the quality of my choices. The problem with our big brains is that there is more room for tedious functions like some of the pithier emotions whose job it is to veto the ones that lead us to unadulterated happiness. And someone/thing thought it beneficial to install the mental capacity to advance technologically (translation: work more, lounge less) in effort to elevate our race for some reason that has yet to become lucid for me. If it was up to me, I would go back to churning my own butter and burning people at the stake for not sharing my opinions.
I borrowed the formula from our friend Susan who owns Wild Yeast, a fabulous website devoted to carbs. I will entrust you to Susan's explanation so that you get the technique just right, but I have included notes about my experience with it, along with the hedonistic addition of chocolate, cherries, and toasted pecans.
For the 900g white flour, Susan calls for all purpose, I called myself experimenting and reached for the bread flour.
I still don't know enough about flour, or about bread for that matter, or what it did to my bread vs. if I would have used the AP. But I am reading and learning slowly, and this weekend I plan to do a few more loaves of the Norwich without all the bells and whistles, just to see what it feels like to be on the straight and narrow with this bread baking thing, since I don't know anything at all, and I'm already experimenting as though I do.
This little guy here proofed counter top for another hour while I entertained a friend and preheated the oven to 475 degrees. The cool thing about this dough is that you can pop it in the oven straight from the fridge, but I pulled the next one out when this first one was in the oven, and rotated the rest of the loaves in that pattern: pupas in the fridge came out to warm up on the counter for 30 while one was in the oven becoming a butterfly, then into the oven goes the room temp dough, and then all over again until they all completed their life cycles.
I baked them all in this pattern:
- Preheat the oven to 475.
Oh, don't forget to slash your loaves in some fashionable design.
- Pop a loaf, or loaves, into the oven, then turn down immediately to 450 degrees.
- Bake 12 minutes with steam. For the steam, I just threw some ice cubes into the bottom of the oven, where waited a red hot cast iron pan.
- Then bake another 18 minutes without steam. So, about 30 minutes total bake time, depending on your oven.
- Susan leaves her loaves in the oven with the door ajar for another 5 after the 30 minute bake time. I didn't do this. I'm not sure why. I think it's because I was gabbing too much and not paying enough attention to my baking loaves. Damn.
But they came out really well for a first round.
I must say, I prefer the look of the loaf that was not retarded in the fridge. It got much more golden brown and blistery than the rest. I will remember that for next time. See it just below?
Leaning tower of pupas.
Remember, double up on the goods. This showoff here is revealing its best side. They were actually more sparsely dappled than I would have liked them to be. Alas, it's an excuse to make chocolate-cherry-toasted pecan Norwich loaves all over again.