Fall has arrived here in Georgia! I know this because our grass is dead. Oh, sure, it was dead before. But now it is REALLY dead. Deader than dead. You can hear it crying as you walk across the lawn and huge tufts of it throw themselves up out of the soil behind your shoes, begging to be put out of their misery.
The pool is closed (that sounds so much more important than “we done threw a big tarp over the water”) and the mornings are chilly. I have been leaving my office door open in the afternoons to catch a breeze, and although it’s still hot around lunchtime, the rest of the day is actually quite lovely.
This is the time of year when I start cooking things that make the whole house smell good, partially because I like to cook and I love to eat, but mostly because delicious smells wafting out of the kitchen temper the bite in the air. Only, the problem is that any bite October has in Georgia, by noon it’s been replaced with HEAT, so my internal cooking thermostat is off.
And so I have not commenced with the chilis and stews and soups; it’s not cold enough yet. My one stint of baking bread this summer taught me that I could go the summer without fresh bread, because there is little more miserable than baking when it’s 100 degrees outside. The drop in temperature means I can return to baking, though, even if I’m not ready for a mammoth pot of chicken soup.
So I was reading along yesterday and came across this post by Belinda and was struck with a sudden and overwhelming urge to MAKE THAT BREAD RIGHT NOW. Now, I’ve been struck by similar carb-lust before, but you have to go look at that recipe to understand. My craving was greatly magnified because it has so many of the things I love dearly all in one place—delicious bready goodness, beer, and cheese.
Dude. The only way you could improve on that would be to top it with bacon and chocolate.
So I took a break and whipped up the bread dough, and by the time Otto got home from work it was rising in the loaf tins and waiting to be baked.
“You’re making bread?” he asked, hopeful. Otto did not marry me for my mad baking skillz, I hope (especially seeing as how I haven’t baked in months), but he does appreciate a good carb-fest as much as I do.
“OH MY GOD WAIT TIL YOU SEE,” I gushed, so excited about the impending deliciousness.
Chickadee and I kept returning to the oven and peeking through the glass, because this bread (because of the beer? because it is awesome?) just rises and rises, and there is no greater entertainment than watching loaves inflate in your oven.
About twenty minutes before it was done baking, the smell in the kitchen was so overwhelming I wanted to curl up on the stove top with head hanging over the side and my nose pressed up against the oven door. Otto and I had elected to eat dinner after the kids were in bed, last night, so this meant we were alone with the bread after the kids turned in.
The first loaf stuck in the pan and I kept running a knife along the edges, trying to figure out where it was still stuck, and swearing under my breath. Finally Otto grabbed a spatula and got it out from the bottom. That loaf… didn’t look so good after its battle to be freed. “We might just have to eat the whole thing,” said Otto.
The second loaf popped right out. Go figure.
I cut us thick slices and we were not disappointed. The crust was crisp and chewy and the innards light and tangy and melt-in-your-mouth.
“I’m going to have some real food,” Otto said, heading to the fridge for leftovers. “Want anything?”
“No, I think I’ll have another piece of bread,” I said, trying to act casual. I finished my piece and went and cut myself another hunk. I whispered sweet nothings to it while trying to eat it slowly, rather than cramming the whole thing in my mouth or stripping down naked and rolling around in it.
By way of preservation, I wrapped up the second loaf and put it in the freezer. “I suspect by the second loaf we’ll be sort of sick of it. Why don’t you save it?” suggested Otto.
“I suspect by the second loaf I might be MAKING myself sick,” I pointed out, “but I doubt I’d be sick of it. But you’re right, let’s save it.” I walked past the loaf on the counter and noticed it was a little uneven. I shaved a bit off… just to tidy it up, you understand.
Eventually it was time for bed and I had to kiss the bread goodnight and leave it.
Hey, know what’s good with a cup of tea in the morning? A slice of beer bread! Or, you know, TWO!
I hope no one else is going to want any of this tonight. I cannot be held accountable for my actions, being left alone in the house with that bread all day.
Hoorah for baking time! It’s too darn hot here to bake from March until… well, now I suppose (yay! It was chilly this morning!) which is yet one more reason why I long to move back to Northern California. Usually we celebrate the return of baking time by cooking up a nice fresh batch of Toad in the Hole but I might have to give this one a try because… well… beer! and bread!
Kindly squirrel away a piece in the freezer where no one will find it. I’ll be there to eat it this weekend.
Yea! Bread and grandchildren in one swell foop.
After reading this post, I am possessed with the desire to polish off the pan of remaining brownies on our stove, or at least the chewy edges. MMMmmmm. CARBS!!!
That sounds positively ambrosial. Do you offer shipping?
I made the season’s first batch of soup last week and remembered again why I like Fall so much!
That bread sounds spectacular but I think I have to make banana bread first, since I’ve got 4 completely brown pieces of fruit giving me stink-eye every time I walk through the kitchen.
Mmmm, bread. I’m going to have to get on that — after I finish painting the kitchen, of course, which will hopefully be before Halloween, or Christmas — because I, too, have gone many months without any yeast-leavening action. It gets hot in DC, and my kitchen isn’t air conditioned. If I had dared to make bread, it probably would have risen so fast and furiously it would have wound up in the kitchen of my neighbors across the alley.
It’s definitely time to put the baking tiles back in the oven, at least.
If I’ve never made bread before in my entire life can I start with this recipe? Or should I do one with training wheels first? I’m usually not much of a bread person (except biscuits!) but this just looks to die for.
Well, I think you showed admirable restraint in not rolling around naked with that bread, which looks SWOON-worthy. Yum.
I can’t wait for it to be soup and chili weather. We’re almost there…
Ah, the homemade bread! How I love it.
Hey! I am in Minnesota (you know, the icebox of the nation!) and the grass is green and I am still picking tomatoes from the vine. What is up with that? I am ready for a healthy dose of fall weather, soup making and bread baking. You can bet I am making this bread, because there is nothing better than carbs in a cold snap. I would tackle that this weekend, but I think I will be mowing the lawn (again!).
The rain is falling outside, the wind is kicking up and I’m on my second pot of soup for the autumnal season. Bread,hmmmm I can smell it from here, but darn I don’t have time to bake. Major bummer dude.
Did you really use American cheese? I’ve never even bought the stuff. I’m no food snob, just like my cheese in nice big hunks. Just curious if it’s necessary or if it could be substituted with some other cheese.
“bacon and chocolate” – funny. The whole story was funny. And the bread sounds delicious (have to take your word for it – I’m not making it). Not cold enough here yet to bake break or make soup – but it won’t be long.
Mmm, I saw that recipe the other day and wanted to make some. But, I’m a big ol’ chicken and only use my bread machine, so I haven’t decided if I’ll brave making bread the old fashioned way yet. Looks kinda hard. ;)
One swell foop! I didn’t think anyone but our family said that.
can I knead in my KitchenAid? I have seriously weak hands. Or maybe I’m just lazy.
Yes, but zucchini bread is extremely addictive too!
Made bread (in the bread maker) and a pot of potato soup for dinner Sunday. Fall is officially here. Oddly – my grass is very very green and very very much alive and well – in fact it looks the best it’s looked all year. Maybe you should look at a MN mix.
Makes me want to start cooking, although living in Miami, there isn’t much relief from the heat.
comfort food season is so depressingly short here in the desert!! my bean soup went over HUGE at bible study last week, tho… this saturday is the chili cook-off!!! http://mattythestranger.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/ironman-saturday-2nd-annual-chili-cook-off/
Hundreds of miles further North, I’m still waiting for that moment when I can look outside and think “It’s fall, bring on the baking!” Instead, we continue to wear tank tops and shorts, turn on the air conditioning, and long for the moment when it will finally feel like October.
Honey, if you’re waiting for it to get cold before you cook you’re going to be waiting a looong time. Did I mention I only broke my winter coat out three times during the multiple years I lived in Georgia? And I’M not from New England. You’re NEVER going to think it’s cold enough.
Mir- How about sprinkling bacon salt on the top before baking? And on the buttered sides and bottom of the pan? And putting crumbled, cooked bacon in the batter!
Can I just say that I’m glad to see your Dad comment? It occurred to me recently that I haven’t read a comment of his around here lately and I was growing concerned.
Save him some bacon salt too.
mmm beer, cheese, bread. This tempts me even though I have never made bread that can be used as anything other than a doorstop. Maybe the fancy new mixer can be my redeeming grace in the bread department. Any advice?
I just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your blog!!! You are thoroughly entertaining. :)
I wouldn’t hold you accountable. The bread fair threw itself into your mouth in it’s desire to be eaten. Not your fault at all.
Oh Mir, I’m so glad you got to start baking. Fall food is my favorite! I’m full into fall mode with lots of chicken chili & soups already made (and eaten) and multiple bread batches done(and eaten). And brownies(eaten), and cinnamon buns (soon to be eaten), and…many hours put in at the gym so I can continue to eat like this! Maybe I’ll make this bread for Friday to welcome my hubby home. Maybe I’ll have to make a test batch first. Off to the gym in preparation!
I love the smell of fresh loaves. Even more, like you I enjoy the baking time spent with my child.Pamela
I love baking time. That’s one regret in my chosen career; just when the weather is right for baking, I’m too busy to bake. sniff. (Feeling selfish and sad)
Aw, the kidlets missed out! Or are they unappreciative of the yumminess?
“I wanted to curl up on the stove top with head hanging over the side and my nose pressed up against the oven door.”
Priceless imagery! Just have to laugh every time I picture it.
Always, alllllways plan bread so that it makes its debut after kid-bedtimes. It’s really the only decent thing to do.
I told you of the out-of-the-oven goodness, did I not? Did I mention how deadly-good is a gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich begun on the building blocks of this loaf? No?
I’ve been asked the question about a substitution for American cheese, too, and I just don’t know. The fact that it’s processed is, I fear, what makes it work *in the dough*. I’m thinking that if you subbed an aged cheese for the processed cheese, you’d have to replace the dairy-fat (although I have used lowfat–not nonfat–American cheese with fine results) in the recipe with buttermilk (wait, that would add more acid) or milk or cream or something. Eh, this is why I don’t make UP the recipes.
And my first loaf stuck, too, from the melted cheese around the top, where I didn’t spray the Baker’s Secret so well. Learned my lesson the second time around and got more liberal with the non-stick.