It all started at Books A Million where I work. I am allowed to "check out" any book for up to two weeks. So on Tuesday I was stocking the cookbooks and I came across this huge book called "The Bread Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Ben has asked me to make bread, and my last two attempts didn't thrill me by any means, so I thought this book might help.
Well, it might have. Except the author is very scientific about her bread, and uses all of the "official" words that I have never even heard before. I had a hard time with the instructions. But it is supposed to be fabulous bread, so I persevered.
The recipe starts with making a sponge, in which you pre-ferment the yeast and some flour, in order to pull out better flavors. So I made the sponge and let it set for two hours as directed. But when I came back to do the next step, I discovered that I had read the instructions incorrectly. Or at least I thought I had. I decided at this point to put it off until tomorrow, when I had more time and it wouldn't be so late.
That's where Ben comes in. He thought it would be adventurous to make the bread together, even if we had to stay up until 1am to complete it. He probably used the word "romantic" which is probably why I agreed.
To make a long story short--we fixed the sponge, then we watched a movie. Then we kneaded it and left it to rise. And we watched another movie. Then we punched it down and left it to rise again. This time we went to bed and set the alarm for two hours. At 3am I groggily shaped the dough, placed it in the loaf pans, and left it to rise...again! We went back to bed and got up again at 5am to put it in the oven. After a half hour Ben got up to rotate the pans half-way through baking. And then we got up together to take the bread out of the oven.
Now I have to tell you--the smell of bread baking as you are sleeping makes the dreams just as wierd as eating pizza too close to bedtime. The bread smelled and looked wonderful. The crust was a medium golden brown, and the loaf was very light. I brushed the melted butter on the top and it soaked in to make the bread look even better. I was elated. Perhaps this time I--no, we--had succeeded.