Yesterday I was supposed to start working on organizing our basement. It has to be done and I know that. The storage area of the basement (about 1/4) the space has only 1/3 the boxes in it right now. Also, when we remodeled our kitchen and bathroom on the main level, we had them save part of the kitchen and the butler's pantry cabinet. They were in the basement, but weren't placed and of course, are empty. That's a big job. Add to that, we have about 8 boxes of tiles left over from the three tiling jobs (two bathrooms and the kitchen) in the way of putting said cabinets in place AND the entire basement is just FILTHY because when they redid the kitchen and hallway, the had to lift up the entire subfloor (down to the beams) which meant, all that dust and wood debris just fell on top of everything in the basement. Here's a picture to give an idea of what kind of mess was created down below:
But what does this have to do with baking? A lot. I was procrastinating. I needed to start another bread as we are already out of all the bread I made on Saturday, so I started the preferment/sourdough for the pain de campagne honfleur. Well, that only takes a few minutes to do, so I got another idea. Earlier in the day, I saw a recipe for a banana coconut yeasted bread. So, I grabbed a couple of my bread books to see if there was something similar. In the Bernard Clayton's book there was a Hawaiian bread, but it didn't have bananas and didn't use buttermilk. The recipe I had seen earlier did, but I thought, "Well, maybe I'll try to combine the two recipes". And that's when it started to unravel.
I didn't have the other recipe on hand, but remembered it had buttermilk, nuts, coconut and bananas. I grabbed the buttermilk which I needed to use up before it went bad. I poured it into a measuring cup and saw it's about double what I need, but thought, "Oh well!". I nuked it for a minute to get it warmer. I threw it in the mixer. I tossed in the yeast needed for making 2 loaves of bread (that's pretty standard) and then added a bit of white whole wheat flour and bread flour. I scoured the kitchen. I found the coconut flakes. They needed to be used soon too, so I put in the whole bag, mixed it in. I grabbed two eggs as I remembered the hawaiian recipe calls for eggs. Then I remembered, "Oh yes, I need to add bananas. Huh.. this is going to be bigger than two loaves with all that liquid. Better add some more yeast for three loaves." So, I mashed the four bananas, added them to the mix and then added a bit more yeast, mixed it up, and then added salt for three loaves.
Well, I only had a wee bit of flour in that glop of mess so far, I just grabbed the bags of flour, alternating between the two with the mixer running until it got to a good consistency. I stopped about halfway through to let the coconut absorb some liquid, and then continued until I had a soft dough. Seen here:
At this point, I was thinking to myself, "What are you doing???? You didn't measure anything but yeast and salt? How do I know it's for three loaves or more? Will this even rise?" I waited a couple minutes to see if I could see any 'growth' of this dough and sure enough, I saw it start to puff up. OK, I took it out and rolled in the diced walnuts. I decided to give this a go.
I let it rise for one hour (and yes, I started on the basement) and this is how it looked when I came up:
It looked promising!
I took it out of the mixing bowl and divided it for three pans. I decided to use pans because I have no idea how this will behave in the final rise. I did the nice tight roll I've learned to make to tighten the top, set it aside under wax paper, preheated the oven to 400 and went back to work downstairs.
I came back upstairs and it looked fantastic. My next thought was, "Ok should I try to slash them? My track record isn't too good! But these loaves still might deflate or be mush or a brick... why not try?" I grabbed the razor blade and just like that, I had three slashes on each loaf of bread - so easy, like never before! Go figure!
Alright, into the oven they go. I turned on the oven light to watch and before my eyes I saw oven spring. I snapped this photo after they had risen already a bit. The next photo you can see even more oven spring growth:
Wow! I had managed to slash loaves and I'm getting great oven spring? On a dough I just pulled out of my butt? What???
I turned down the oven temperature and baked until they reached 205 degrees inside. I pulled them out and this is what I got:
I let them cool while I worked more in the basement - hauled hundreds of pounds of tile, lifted heavy cabinets, unpacked 8 boxes, cleaned tons of dust and assembled storage shelves. And then finally, when I was worn out and it was 10:30 pm, I came upstairs for the moment of truth. How did it look? How did it taste?
Yep, it's fantastic! Unbelievable. Of course, I owe the inspiration to someone else, but I couldn't give you a recipe in detail if I wanted to - I just don't know the measurements! Wow! So what does that mean? My winging it recipe was the most successful I've ever made? I think what it means is that I need to pay more attention to the feel of the dough than what the recipe says - recipes are a guide, but the feel of the dough is the authority.
Wish I could share this bread with everyone today. I've never tasted anything like it and it's divine, truly divine. Hope I can replicate it enough to do it again. Hmmm... maybe I should write down what I think I did approximately, huh?