I'm glad that I had a few weeks of bread baking under my belt before attempting this. And here's why. I've finally discovered why bread baking can be such a challenge if you've had minimal experience with it. The book's author, Peter Reinhart, uses terms such as sticky, tacky, smooth, pliable and supple to explain what the dough should look and feel like as we're lovingly kneading it to perfection, but it's only after experiencing those characteristics with our own senses that we are able to really "get it." Experience really is the best teacher. (To all three of my kids: This is why I made you drive 5000 miles with me in the car before I turned you loose on your own!)
Experience then, is what helped me realize that my dough was entirely too stiff. This was the first of this challenge's recipes that I didn't have to add extra flour to. In fact, because I was certain that my dough was a little on the stiff side, I ended up adding at least two tablespoons more water. And I really put some time into getting all the butter incorporated into the dough and assuring myself that I had kneaded it enough. I'm guessing it took me about 15 minutes between hand kneading and Kitchen Aid to get the job done. Now for my take on the tasty add-ins. Instead of salami, I opted for pepperoni. My cheese was extra sharp cheddar, and I decided at the last minute to also add in about a quarter cup of sundried tomato bits. That was a good call.
I proofed my loaf in an 8" cake pan with a parchment collar attached to support it as it rose. (Look at me acting all like I know what I'm doing!)
OK, fine. Of course I didn't come up with this method on my own, I'm not quite that brilliant. I got the parchment tip from fellow Bread Baker's Apprentice, BuffaloBaker over at "At The Very Yeast." Thanks, BuffaloBaker. I initially thought I was going to be a big girl and try to braid it like Susie did, but I chickened out. I'm probably going to have to practice braiding on the dog or something before next week's Challah challenge though...lol
Great tasting bread, I must admit. It made a HUGE loaf and I was thankful that the kids were here this weekend to share it with me. I served it with my homemade pasta salad yesterday for lunch (post to follow later this week.)