I know that I have been spotty lately when it comes to posting. Before you shrug me off completely, let me explain that I have good reason for my neglect.
My friend Lauren and I are chairing a committee that is in charge of a rather large 5-mile and 5k charity run. By "rather large," I mean that it draws more than 1,300 runners each year (it's not the New York City Marathon, but hey, that's still a lot of people in one small park early on a Saturday morning!). We also offer a 1-mile Kids Run, which we hope will inspire children at local schools to participate and learn a little bit about fitness.
Until I began working on this event last summer, I had no idea that it would be a second full-time job; a habit-forming activity; something of a demanding baby - one that requires constant feedings, changings, soothings, and meetings with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and other city agencies.
The 9th Annual Riverwalk Run will take place here in Fort Lauderdale on March 21, 2009. Between now and that date, I foresee many more evening meetings in my future. Unfortunately, I do a lot of my Fritter cooking in the evenings. This is all for a great cause, though.
The Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale, the organization that hosts the Run (and of which Lauren and I are members), supports a local endeavor called the Transitional Independent Living project. "TIL" as we call it, is collaborating with state and local agencies to provide needed resources to for teens aging out of the foster care system in Broward County. In case you did not know, foster children stop receiving state assistance the day they turn 18. This means that many lose their place in their foster homes abruptly during their senior year of high school, which decreases their chances of continuing their education.
TIL will subsidize housing and teach "life skills" (i.e. how to lease an apartment, make a budget, cook, etc.) to teenagers who turn eighteen before they are really equipped to deal with adult life. Considering that up to 25% of teens who age out of the foster care system experience homelessness and up to 50% of them experience unemployment, TIL is something we need here in Broward. By organizing the Riverwalk Run, Lauren and I hope to raise the funds necessary to aid TIL in its goals.
While all of this 5k craziness is going on, I will continue to cook for Fritter, just on a less predictable basis. For your own convenience, please feel free to "follow" Fritter or sign up for email updates. Stick with me, here, since you never know what the future will bring!
Here's a hint: chocolate bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce. Stay tuned.
Fast French Boule
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
This recipe is different from most orthodox bread recipes in that it is just about the lowest maintenance bread recipe you'll ever find. No kneading is needed (ha!). From start to finish, you can have fresh bread in under 2 hours. Please note before you begin that this recipe yields enough dough for 4 1-pound loaves. The dough will store up to one week in your fridge, so in theory, you can make a loaf of bread whenever you feel like it.
3 cups of warm (but not hot) water, plus 1/2 cup
1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated yeast
1 tablespoon of coarse salt
6 1/2 level cups of all-purpose flour, plus an extra 1/4 cup for dusting
A handful of cornmeal to dust the baking surface
Pour 3 cups of warm water into the bowl of an upright mixer equipped with a bread hook. If you do not have such a mixer, just use a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water, then add the salt. No mixing is required.
Add the flour all at once. Turn the mixer on the lowest setting and allow it to blend the flour into the water until a wet dough forms (1 -2 minutes), or stir by hand with a wooden spoon. Turn the dough out into a large, resealable food container (a 5 gallon container would be handy here, but I use a large casserole-type tupperware with good results).
Cover the container with aluminum foil or a lid (do not seal it all the way or the pressure from the yeast gases may blow it off). Set stand at room temperature for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
Dust a clean work surface with 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. Tear off a grapefruit-size portion of dough and form it into a soft ball, then set it on the floured surface (refrigerate the remaining dough in its container with a resealable lid). Turn the ball in the flour a time or two to lightly cover it in flour. Holding the ball with both hands, gently pull the sides down underneath the ball and pinch them together. Rotate the ball 90 degrees and pull the sides down again, bunching the two sides underneath the ball. The ball should appear smooth on top and bunched underneath. Cover the ball with a clean kitchen towel and all it to rise for another 30 minutes.
While the boule is completing its second rising, place a pizza stone or an oven-proof iron skillet in the top shelf of your oven and a broiler tray on the bottom shelf. Dust the pizza stone or skillet with the cornmeal. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees for about 20 minutes.
When the boule has completed its 30-minute rising, lightly slash the top of it with a knife. Using a pizza peel, quickly place the boule on the pizza stone or in the hot skillet. Pour 1/2 cup of water into the broiler tray below and shut the door immediately. The steam created by this step will give your bread a nice crisp exterior.
Bake at 450 for 30 minutes, until the boule is browned on top and firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before cutting into the loaf.
Makes: the dough recipe yields 4 1-pound loaves of bread