Possibly the most humbling thing about baking, or even cooking, in someone else's kitchen is that nothing is where it should be. Rather, everything is somewhere else- The flour is in the pantry, but on a different shelf, and even the pantry is on the wrong side of the kitchen.
Last Thanksgiving was a whirlwind marathon of cooking. It's one of the few holidays I enjoy, mostly because I get to cook for people I absolutely adore as well as be thankful that I am able to cook and that these people are in my life. The bad thing about it is that it takes up so much prep time, and that this year, I was unable to do much in advance.
Everything was made from scratch, even the bread from the stuffing came from two loaves I had baked earlier in the week. The bad thing, though, was that I had to move most of my kitchen equipment in order to cook and bake. In all, we had to take a taxi there with half of our extant kitchen (one wheelie-cart, and two of those large Mexican shopping bags), and a taxi back because of exhaustion after a day of cooking and eating.
As some of my readers already know, Sunday night is Tatort night. However, sometimes Sunday night turns into an extension of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, and I find myself, like I did last weekend with the New York Deli Rye Bread (to come!), shaping and putting loaves in the oven while the show is running. The thing is, that the program lasts 90 minutes and is uninterrupted by commercials. It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't a crime show, where anything could be a clue.
On the particular Sunday for the Potato Rosemary Bread, we were traipsing through Berlin doing I have no idea what. All I remember is that I was able to roughly time the rises according to where we were going.
Despite all this, I was able to make a mise en place for the bread, which included some pretty awesome roasted garlic thanks to a tip from Paul at Yumarama. I do have to confess that the mashed potatoes were left over from Thanksgiving, and were a week old at the time of their use. Also, they already had garlic, butter, cream and rosemary in them.
In addition, I didn't have any fresh Rosemary on hand. I do however, get fresh Rosemary every now and then, and dry it myself. No worries, there is no trick, I just put it in a bowl with the fresh thyme I also don't use and make sure it is in a dry spot in the kitchen. It pretty much dries itself. Though, I did soak it in hot water for a half- hour, and then used the same water in the dough.
This is what the melange of ingredients looks like at the bottom of the mixer.
As soon as I put on the scraper and roller, the fun begins and the dough takes form.
And all of a sudden, the bread just bakes itself!
No, not really. The true story of why I have so few pictures it that it was a really busy day and I just didn't have time. We were watching Tatort over at a friend's house. I knew she wouldn't mind me using her oven, since I had used it for about eight hours straight the weekend before for Thanksgiving dinner.
So, just before we left the house, I packed the bread in its first-rise bowl, and tossed a Gärkorb (Ironically called a Brotform in English) into a cloth bag. I thought it was a bit funny to carry the bread on the U-Bahn, but no one noticed. As soon as I got to her apartment, I politely asked, as I always do, if I could use the oven.
Possibly the most humbling thing about baking in someone else's kitchen is that you don't have your own tools on hand. A serrated knife stood in for the lame, and the bread was baked on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
But what has to be the most humbling of all is that the oven is completely different. The thermostat lies on every oven I've ever used, so an oven thermometer has been one of the best purchases I have ever made. This time, though I didn't have it on hand, the oven heated from the bottom so the crust did not get as dark. I have become so used to my small electric oven that I forget that baking bread in another oven will not be the same.
Still, the bread smelled heavenly and the taste was- well, I kept sneaking slices of this plain. The bread was soft and the crumb was moist and flavorful, like a savory cake made with flour, yeast, water, and salt.
Check out these other loaves of Potato Rosemary Bread:
Carolyn from Two Skinny Jenkins
Oggi from The Home Baker
Janice from Round The Table
Sally from Bewitching Kitchen