Hybrid quick bread

That’s right, it’s time for the next instalment of everyone’s favourite comedy show: Adventures in cooking with Julie! (Don’t laugh; this one’s gonna be a doozie, and I can already hear all you experienced cooks snickering behind your screens.)

Today’s recipe is Mark Bittman’s hybrid quick bread. (Called “hybrid” because it uses both whole wheat and white flour, and called “quick” because it’s supposed to take 45 minutes, start-to-finish. My experienced readers will already know where this post is going.)

The recipe calls for a food processor, and while I actually do own one, I hate using it, because using it involves cleaning it afterwards. And there are all sorts of little nooks that are particularly difficult to clean without a brush (which I don’t own). So I decided to do it by hand. (Okay, okay… you can stop laughing at my innocence now.)

For the record, I’ve never cooked bread before that I can remember. Cookies, yes. Cakes, yes. Bread, no. So I’m in completely uncharted territory here. My main problem came from the instruction to process “until the dough is a well-defined, barely sticky, easy-to-handle ball.” Well, I kneaded. And kneaded. And kneaded. (My kneading technique needs work.) But no matter how long I kneaded, it was still sticky. And also seemed to think that my hands were part of the dough, but never mind that. (Note to self: leave a small pile of flour out of the bag before you put it away!)

Even though he says it’s “unlikely” that the dough is too wet, I put in another 1.5 tbsp of flour, and that seemed to help things. In any case, I eventually got tired of kneading, declared it good enough when I could hold it in my (newly floured, and no longer covered in dough) hands, put it on a cookie sheet, and into the oven it went. Now I’m just waiting to see how it turns out. Updates in a while.

Update 1: I tried to sprinkle on sea salt at the 20-minute mark, but the crust is totally non-sticky. Some of it managed to stay on top. We’ll see if it stays on top when I take it out of the oven in half an hour or so.

On the one hand, it looks like bread and my kitchen smells lovely. On the other hand, I’ll never figure out what possessed me to bake during a heat wave. Oh, and I must remember for next time that my mom bought me an apron. My shirt is totally covered with flour now.

In the meantime: Does anyone have any sources on how to knead bread properly? I’m almost totally certain I was doing it wrong.

Update 2: Only took another 30 minutes after the salt-sprinkling. Indeed, pretty much none of the salt stuck. Alas. You win some and you lose some. One of the reasons it took so little time is because my oven runs hot. Even setting it at 325 degrees, my oven thermometer was still reading 400. A toothpick comes out clean, though, so hopefully the inside is all cooked.

In the end, it looks like bread and smells like bread. Updates tonight on whether it tastes like bread as well, and (more importantly) whether it’s worth taking the time to make again.

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