Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Spoon vs Gourmet

I'm not quite making bread daily (har) yet, but twice in one week is certainly stepping it up. I knew it was only a matter of time before I tried making one of the gorgeous rolls from Gourmet's February issue, and on Sunday, the time had come. I went with the Crusty Cornstalk Rolls because I had all the ingredients in my kitchen already (pantry, people, pantry!).

So here's the thing about this particular recipe spread. Every photograph is drop-dead gorgeous. Golden crusts, perfect knots, pretty fantails and fancy swirls... could I really do this? Probably not. But I was going to give it a shot anyway. The headnotes for the Cornstalk Rolls recipe insisted, "the technique for shaping this sculptural loaf is very simple..." Right. First I needed to go out and buy a pair of kitchen shears, which, truth be told, I did need. After that, the dough came together pretty easily; I had to use a bit more flour because it was extremely sticky, but I didn't really have any problems in that department.

However, when it came to shaping the dough into a "towering cornstalk," I was nervous. Snipping dough with extremely sharp kitchen scissors on the diagonal, pulling apart the pieces and stretching the dough to form rolls that were connected to the center "stalk"... this is advanced stuff. I kept telling myself it didn't matter how it looked; it's all about the taste, because I knew my bread (above left) wasn't going to look like the picture in the magazine (below right). Oh well. Not the first time that's happened.

I diligently misted the rolls with water before baking them, and then spritzed the oven with water three times during the first five minutes of baking. And the finished product? As expected, a little more "homemade" looking than the picture. But tasty? You bet. A little grainy from the cornmeal, nicely crusty from the misted water. My friend Kate said they were even prettier than the ones in the magazine. Take that, Gourmet.--S

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