That's kind of how things went with this bread. Read on and you'll see.
There are dozens of bread recipes that I've bookmarked - physically and electronically - but I chose this recipe for Ricotta Bliss Bread, which I saw on Rose Levy Beranbaum's blog (it's also in her Bread Bible), because I had a container of ricotta in my fridge that was calling to be used.
- Beranbaum calls this formula "bliss" bread, presumably because it is so perfect, but of course I had to tinker with the recipe, adding some whole wheat and subbing honey for the sugar.
- This is a direct rise dough, so it can be mixed and baked on the same day.
- I baked it as loaf bread (although Beranbaum waxes rhapsodically about how great it tastes as a free form loaf.)
- The recipe calls for the whole milk ricotta; I used part skim.
- I replaced the sugar with 2 T honey, added with the wet ingredients.
- Just under half of the flour was white whole wheat.
- This was the first time I'd followed one of Beranbaum's recipes. The primary instructions for this bread called for the food processor. One of the ingredients is "cold water." Now, the water from our tap can hardly be called "cold" and our refrigerator's water dispenser was broken. So I threw a couple of ice cubes into some water and weighed it. Oops, short a few ounces, so tossed in more ice. Then on with the recipe.
- The dough was really really cold. I set the rising bucket in my warmest spot to rise. Usually my dough rises faster than the time estimates in the recipes that I follow.
- At the end of an hour I checked and saw that the dough had not risen. Not a bit. In fact it was still cold. During that hour, I'd finally done some reading in Beranbaum's book. There was a comment in the book that ice cold water would kill the yeast. Yipes. I became convinced that I'd slain my yeast with the ice water I used :(
- So I tossed that dough aside as a failure and mixed up another - smaller - batch of dough with the the remainder of the 15 oz ricotta container, scaling the other ingredients appropriately:
360 flour (160 white whole wheat, 200 all purpose)- A while later I looked over at the first batch of dough and found out it had risen after all. So I baked it in the 9x5 pan and put the other pan in the fridge to bake later.
3.5 g instant yeast
180 g ricotta
85 g cold water
7 g salt
40 g egg in shell (I used a 51 g egg and spooned a bit out)
heaping 1 T honey
- As it turned out, the first loaf, the "failed" one, baked up beautifully. And the second loaf? Lackluster! It didn't rise well, nor did it taste all that great.
- I've made this bread several times since this first loaf, and each time the dough takes a fairly long time to begin rising, but never as long as that first time when I used the ice water!
We couldn't believe how pretty this loaf was! My husband loved the taste of this bread, which he ate toasted, for breakfast. "This is so good I don't want to swallow it. It really is the best ever."
My daughter quipped, "the bread that the baker rejected has become the corner loaf" (a riff on Psalm 118) . Although she didn't intend this, her words, and indeed the afternoon's experience, spoke to me of paradox, improbability, redemption, and even resurrection. A fitting lesson, and... a great title for a blog! And the loaf? I'm commemorating it up on the blog banner!
I'm sending this loaf over to Susan at Yeastspotting, a weekly roundup of fabulous breads.