Variations on a Theme: The Ongoing Adventures in Lahey Bread

In my fervor for all things Lahey, I write again on the merits of My Bread. Variety is usually the spice of my life here at Casa Rcakewalk, but lately, I've focused on eating up what has already been made instead of making new - which is a feat in and of itself, since I am never happier than when I have a whole day of cooking or baking under my belt. Since the onset of my blogging life last April, I found myself even more ambitious in creating - obsessed as much with the good food as I was in the process of photographing it and writing about it. This ultimately led to too much waste, since often I'm the only one eating the bulk of my projects...

Everyone makes
resolutions at the end of the year, promising to do things differently going into the new one. My own unpublished (until now) resolution was to focus more on less waste and enjoying each stage of the eating process than to focus on sheer quantity of food produced. So far, I have done quite well, and maybe even lost a couple of pounds. Our grocery budget is slashed, and I am supplementing our shelved and frozen pantries with fresh fruits and veggies, flour (of course), milk and cheese.

Enter Lahey bread method. I really know I could exist fully on bread and cheese, maybe a glass of wine here and there, and coffee, milk and tea. No lie, and I'd be quite happy indefinitely if I could experiment with the components of each. If you would add in some rolled oats for my Boy-O and maybe some eggs, meat and Lucky Charms for my Husband, and we all could exist quite well for pret-ty, pret-ty long time.

Last night, Ash Wednesday, we had another in the Lahey pizza installments: Pizza Funghi. This second pizza was as wonderful as the first, and just as easy to concoct. I didn't wait until I bought or borrowed a mandoline to slice crimini mushrooms to 1/8 inch, and I'm glad. It may have taken a few extra minutes, but it was well worth any effort. This was such a substantial pizza even in the absence of sauce or much cheese. (Lahey does leave these cheese-less, but that just seems wrong given our geographical local, and I again added just a bit of shredded mozzarella and provolone during the last 5 minutes of baking.)

Yesterday, I ordered my Amazon cart at long last with My Bread at the top of the list. I started my second loaf, the Pane Integrale (wheat bread), yesterday and baked it near lunchtime today. I took advantage of the scorching oven to heat some of the leftovers, and they were very close to as good as when they were fresh out the day prior, crispy and earthy tasting.

Since I seem to be working in order, at least with the loaf breads, I'm almost considering making everything in the book in succession. I know each and every recipe is worth my time and (minimal) effort.

I think experimentation is my favorite thing about becoming obsessed with food-related things. The first time I try a new recipe, I usually try to stick close to the as-written, but usually hopelessly alter until it is at least reasonably healthy. That wasn't at all the case with these recipes; I'm following to the gram, and they are turning out perfectly. I am shocked when I remove the lid, and my loaf looks identical to the photographs in the book.

I may have a bit of layman baking experience, but I am convinced that even if you do not, your bread will look and taste like Lahey bread. This, my friends, is the mark of a great teacher, writer and tester. Go ahead and click on the book to the right in my Amazon reading list: you will no doubt be as happy as I am to have this book in your library.