Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Beware of Greek bread that doesn't lift

I am determined not to be beaten by this eftazimo. I will make some that turns out all right. I might be 90 by the time I manage it, but I will.

I decided to try Vefa's recipe again, but this time to go for a much looser dough. I achieved that, at least. Much, much looser...

This time I was excited to use my new, specially-purchased-for-pounding-chick-peas pestle and mortar. It's huge and solid and spectacularly therapeutic when it comes to crushing the innocent. It's an absolute monster, weighs half of what Junior did when he was born, and was going to be much more fun than the coffee grinder. With not much effort, the chick peas crumbled at my knees. Well, they split in half and discarded their skins. On the downside, I had to be very precise when attacking them, and give each one its own doink - It's pretty impressive how far a mis-hit chick pea can ricochet round the kitchen. On an entirely unrelated note, stepping on a partial chick pea in stocking feet is not an experience one wishes to try more than once. Or even once, really.

I was left with mostly-in-half chick peas, which I decided was probably ok. I put them in my kilner jar with some salt and boiling water, wrapped it in a towel and left it in the cosy airing cupboard for 25 hours, having alerted the boys that it was meant to be there and didn't need rescuing. After its sojourn in the airing cupboard, the jar showed evidence of extreme activity although the froth that was left wasn't much to write home about. It had clearly risen very high up the jar in a desperate attempt to escape its fate, so I am sorry I didn't peek earlier and rescue it then.

I decanted the froth and the juice and mixed it with a tablespoon of sugar and some of Shipton Mill's finest. Something made me put it in a bigger bowl than last time. A plastic hat, then back in the airing cupboard with it. I did peek this time, just before bed, and saw to my horror (ok, deep joy) that the stuff was almost fermenting its way out of the bowl. I scooted downstairs and decanted it into a bigger one to make sure it couldn't escape. In the morning, it didn't look much different, it hadn't grown any and if anything had fewer bubbles. I think I missed the bus on this one again.

The next morning I wasn't ready to use it, so I gave it a spot of breakfast to keep it going and then made up the dough later on that afternoon. I was more liberal with the water this time and in complete opposition to the tight little mass I made last time, I had the sloppiest slappiest dough which I worked the Bertinet way because there wasn't anything else I could do with it.

I left it to prove in a couple of round bannetons in front of the radiator. I watched it like a hawk but couldn't see any movement apart from when one blew a huge bubble at me in a sticking-out-its-tongue fashion. I decided to bake one on a granite slab in the oven, and one in my smaller dutch oven. Neither of these turned out to be a particularly good idea. The one on the stone spread and spread and didn't look like it would ever stop. 'Pancake' is what came to mind as I peered forlornly through the oven window. The one in the dutch oven didn't fare much better.

Again it has been popular with the boys, so it's not a dead loss. It's just galling that getting the chick peas fermenting seems from the write-ups to be the difficult bit, and that is happening for me. It's what I do afterwards that is drenched in fail.

Next time I am going to be guided by Paula Wolfert so you never know, I might have something neat to show you then...

Behold the power of my granite monster

I'm not sure this adds a great deal, I just quite liked the photo

It didn't seem to smell as weird this time. Maybe I'm getting used to it.

Conclusive evidence of an attempted escape

This wouldn't look any different in 3D

The one on the right looks like a cross between a drop scone and a dodgem car

A valiant attempt at bubble formation

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