Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tackling Martha

Tackling Martha Stewart sounds like fun. Taking that snooty broad down and wiping that smug smirk off her face would be.... Wait, that's a different blog. What I'm talking about is tackling Martha's RECIPES, not her physical person. Because that would be illegal. And two felons don't make a wicker basket or some shit. I digress.

In a post a couple months back, I told you about the book my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas several years ago: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I made a meme and everything. You should go check it out. I still giggle when I see it.

Well, that blog post has been taunting me for weeks now, and so I finally dusted off that book, re-read some of the recipes I had flagged years ago, flagged a bunch of new ones, and picked my first recipe to try. I wanted to try a nice, simple sandwich bread, so I went with Pullman Bread on page 297.

The recipe sounded simple enough, and even though I don't have a lidded pullman loaf pan, she said I could still make the recipe. So I got started early in the day, allowing plenty of time for all the rising, punching, rising, shaping, and rising again. Finally, I had a beautiful pan of swollen yeast dough, perfectly rounded on the top like I imagined it would be. I referred back to Martha for the baking instructions, which, of course, all talked about the lid and opening and closing it. So I double-checked what I had read earlier about baking without the lid and I double-checked for specific instructions about baking sans lid. At the top of the page, Martha (or I should say Martha's recipe-writing minion) clearly says, "If you prefer a loaf with a rounded top, you can bake the dough without the lid in place; the baking time should be the same."

Lying bitch.

Since the directions said to rotate the pan halfway through the first 45-minute baking interval, I opened the oven about 20 minutes in. Much to my surprise, I had one seriously dark loaf in the oven! And according to Martha/Martha's minions, I still had 55 more minutes of baking time to go. Yikes! So I carefully tented the loaf with foil, reduced the heat as directed (albeit 25 minutes earlier than indicated) and let it go another 5-10 minutes. At that point, I looked again - still dark brown - and tapped on it. Hollow-sounding, like it should if it were done. So I decided to just pull it out and check the bottom. My beautiful, dark brown loaf slid easily from the pan, and when I tapped on the bottom - hollow-sounding! I moved it to a cooling rack and decided to just see what happened.

About 20 excruciating minutes later I was a bad girl and carved a slice off of the still-warm loaf and schmeared it with butter. Oh my Land O' Lakes! That was one delicious, perfectly baked slice of bread! Which can only mean two things:
  1. I am Super Baker. Hear me roar.
  2. Martha and her minions are fallible. 
In other words, Martha's baking instructions are wrong. You're WRONG, Martha! WRONG! And even though you're WRONG, I am Super Baker, and I made one helluva delectable loaf of bread. Warning: graphic food porn image shown below...

Isn't that sexy? Sure, it's a little dark, but on the inside it's white - but not too white - soft, dense but with a light texture, and slightly salty. I may not go back to store-bought after this. Now the hunt is on for a lidded pullman loaf pan to see what kind of difference that makes, though, with regard to the baking instructions.

Tonight had breakfast for dinner - a longtime favorite of mine - and I sliced up the rest of this loaf for some rich, thick French toast. Yummers! Turns out this is the perfect bread for French toast!

Suck it, Martha. I will conquer you and your terror-inducing recipe book filled with errors.

Love, Krista


  1. I haven't tried any of Martha's recipes, but I have several recipes from Baking with Julia that I haven't gotten around to trying. I've never made any of Julia Child's recipes, but I'm not sure whether I trust her or not. Betty Crocker, I trust. ;) We have an understanding.

    1. In French Club in high school, a couple other girls and I made one of Julia's roll cakes (I can't remember if it was chocolate or pumpkin or what - it was for our Christmas party). I remember being so intimidated by it at the time, but in the end it really wasn't that difficult. I need to pick up that book. (I assume you've read Julie & Julia? Love that book.) Now, Betty Crocker? Yeah, that lady knows what's up. When I need to know how to roast some meat or make a pie, she's usually my go-to girl.