Instead, I gave myself a little lecture that I always gave new ICU nurses I mentored and trained: Yes, you are a good nurse and you're really smart, but you cannot expect to be an expert in the ICU until you have plenty of experience under your belt and this takes time. What in the world made me think I could be an artisan bread baker my first time out? I absolutely was not going to throw in my bread baking tea towel after my first foray.
Last night, about 2 hours before my shift ended, I opened the fridge for a snack and could swear I smelled beer. The smells in that fridge were intoxicating and my nose pinpointed the bowl of neglected dough as the source. The four day stint in the fridge had produced a rather mature product and I had a fleeting thought that this must be the reason people rave about this recipe.
Throwing caution to the wind and praying the phones would stay silent, I hacked off a 2 pound piece of the dough, fashioned a cloak around it, and set it on the peel to allow it to rest. Around 11:15 PM, I decided I was going to bake this loaf in my fancy ass new dutch oven as initially advised by Sue B in the comments on a past post (also, I haven't returned the ill fitting pizza stone to the store). Following online instructions, I set my stove to scorching hot allowing my dutch oven to come to temperature in the 500 degree heat. When I was certain I was done working for the night, I tossed the dough in the pan, placed the lid atop the pot and waited.
Leo waited, too. He parked his butt on the living room floor with his nose pointed toward the kitchen and over the next 45 minutes, periodically raised his head to sniff the air.
Sara--less patient and more verbal than Leo--asked me at least 3 times how long it would take until she could have warm bread smothered in butter and jam.
When the timer announced the right amount of time had elapsed, I opened the oven to see the most glorious loaf of bread I've ever produced. The loaf was crusty, beautiful and smoking hot. We let it cool precisely 2 minutes before we cut into it to find a light and airy crumb.
I finally understand the fuss.
Sorry no photos. It's all gone. Maybe next time.