And we're caught up! Scott and I went down to visit friends in Oakland and visit wine country in Napa and Sonoma for our spring break. I finally got us caught up on the drive from Oakland to Boise. I know it's out of the usual scope of the blog, but look for a recap of our Sonoma and Napa adventures soon. We were able to visit Ridge Lytton Springs, Shafer Vineyards, Joseph Phelps, Dominus Estate, and a few others. I love Scott's job... One of the coolest parts about being able to visit Dominus is that they are not open to the public. Look for pictures soon!
I was lucky enough to receive a Professional Series Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer for my birthday last year. I had salivated over them for ages, and I can’t thank my husband & both sets of parents enough for letting me finally have one in the kitchen. It looks so pretty sitting on the counter, and I’ve loved how much easier recipes that require mixing are. The mixer also brought me an unexpected benefit: my husband realized he loves to make bread. The smell of bread rising in the house is so comforting and warm. I’m not sure there’s a better smell to come home to. The bread-making has slowed since his semester of school has started, but he’s still occasionally busting out the dough hook to make us some treats. Scott tends to like the richer breads. One of his favorites is a Portuguese rich bread from Mark Bittman’s Best Recipes in the World. If it has eggs or dairy, chances are he’s earmarked it for a weekend day.
We’ve tried the regular brioche recipe in the book before, and this was a savory version with gruyere. The procedure is the same as with a brioche, and the mixer does most of the work. One of these days, we’ll have to attempt to hand knead, but it’s kind of fun to be able to have “easy” homemade bread. We did have a little miscommunication regarding the gruyere: I told Scott that I had grated all of the cheese and that he’d have to measure out what he needed. He heard it as his grated cheese was in the fridge. Oops. The final product definitely had the tang of gruyere. It was recommended to bake the bread in a loaf pan, but Scott tends to like the more rustic look of a hand-shaped round. The bread was still done in the middle before the outside got too crispy or burned. I bought him a Sil-Pat back in November, and it has made baking bread just a little easier. We don’t have to worry about making sure the house is stocked with parchment paper, and I’ve appreciated that we’ve cut down a bit on waste. I’d like to find him a Sil-Pain one of these days. They’re designed to make sure the crust is crunchy and doesn’t burn, but I haven’t seen any in any of the kitchen shops I’ve visited.
So how was the cheesy bread? It was fantastic. The texture was light and airy. It smelled so good when it was baking that I had a hard time waiting to cut it open. He sprinkled a little Ballard Truffle & Salt Cheddar on the top, which gave an extra layer to the crunchiness on the crust. The middle was fragrant, and there were small pockets where the cheese didn’t melt completely into the dough. We both agreed that we should have had some high quality ham to go with the bread. It would have been amazing with a smear of Dijon mustard and some Black Forest or Serrano ham. We’ll be sure to put in the proper amount of cheese next time, but it’s nice to have measuring mistakes turn out okay in the end.