Breads, BS

Crusty, yet oh so soft

This past February, you may recall, I did a quick update in my kitchen and dining room.  Laminate flooring, fresh paint, storage cabinets in the dining room, hard-plumbing of my portable dishwasher, new sink and faucet.  The kitchen was in a shambles for over three weeks that go-round.  I couldn’t do much cooking during the process because I had crap all over my counters.  Tools, shit from the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink, paint rollers – you name it, it was on the counters.

I knew it was going to be a royal pain to remove the existing Kohler ceramic sink.  It’s been there for 20-some-odd years, when the cabinets and countertops were replaced by the in-laws.  Also, knowing my father-in-law, it probably wasn’t installed “normal” LOL

Poor JR.  He’s the guy I hired to do the floor, dishwasher, sink and faucet.  He and his helper started working at pulling out that sink – finally going to get a pry bar out of his truck.  I was told to pray, because new countertops weren’t in the plan and I was rapidly running out of money.  Slowly but surely, the right side of the sink separated from its glue/caulk/cement/whatever and rose toward the ceiling.  The guys carefully chiseled at the adhesive as the sink went up.

I was sitting in the living room, reading or some such nonsense (all the kitchen and dining furniture was hanging out in the living room, so my entertainment options were extremely limited), when I heard…

<CRACK> “Oh, shit!”

I barreled into the kitchen, expecting to see half the countertop gone, if I were judging by the loudness of its complaint.

We were damn lucky.  As the last section of the sink lifted from the adhesive, it snapped a 2″ crack in the formica, right at the edge of the sink – and only the formica was damaged, believe it or not.  The substrate underneath was perfectly fine.  The new stainless steel sink and faucet were installed by a horrifed JR (I had to tell him to calm the hell down; it wasn’t that big a deal!) in short order.  He sealed the crack as best he could and I called it good.

Within a couple of weeks of the installation, I noticed that the sealant used on the crack was gone.  Go Figure – The Man thought it was extra caulk from around the sink and peeled it off. I knew I needed to do something before the wood underneath was damaged, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed to either replace the countertop or cover it with something.  Soon.  To carry us through, I glued the living hell of of the crack.

When I began the whole kitchen thing, I told myself I wouldn’t put anything in that I couldn’t live with for a long time.  I was only spending big money in the room once.  Ideally, I wanted granite countertops.  However, I just can’t suck it up when it comes to the pricing of slabs.  In fact, I sit here shuddering, just thinking about it.

The internet is a very good friend to me.  Every single problem we’ve had in this house that I have repaired, I was able to fix whatever it was because of researching the web.  It was the internet that brought me to the realization that I have a problem with gluten, then it showed me how to get tested…and of course, here we are.

Well, I don’t remember exactly what words I used to search, but I came up with several websites that talked about using granite tiles butted right up against each other – on top of a formica counter.

Holy Sweet Mother of God.  There was my answer.  My countertops, other than the new crack and a few scratches, were damn solid (the formica is installed on 2″ thick wood – and I don’t think it’s plywood, actually).  The cabinets below were handmade, according to my sister-in-law (which is why I kept them – can’t find that kind of stuff around any more without a hefty price tag).

So, hell yeah- granite tile it is.

When we received the farm rental check at the beginning of May, I already had a plan of action (after an assload of research on the web, of course).  I ended up purchasing the tiles from Bedrock Creations, because the tiles come bullnosed.  All I had to do was cut shit to fit (which was a lot scary as I have never used a circular saw, much less a tile saw where I am pushing body parts toward a rapidly-spinning blade).  Bedrock Creations was also kind enough to miter some 45-degree angles on a few edging pieces so I didn’t have that horror to deal with.

I had The Man cut the cement board for me (chickenshit with the spinning blades, remember?).  I glued and secured that shit down (I had to take many, many deep breaths before doing this because I knew that once this happened, I couldn’t stop the project unless I wanted to live with concrete dust throughout the house for the rest of my life), then laid out the tiles so I could mark them for cutting.  Then I had to wait 3 days before I could start tiling (job duties were involved with the delay).

That Sunday, I cranked out the backsplash and field tiles.  Monday after work, I put the edging on.  Tuesday and Wednesday after work were spent laying around with “oh my god oh my god oh my god please don’t let me screw this up” running as a chant in my head.  Thursday, I grouted.  Saturday, I sealed.  This past Sunday, I started installing stainless steel trim on the top of the backsplash and along the bottom of the edging (I totally love that look and I was doing it no matter what anyone said).

I was on vacation this week, but I was so sick of the whole project that I couldn’t bring myself to finish the metal trim until YESTERDAY!  LOL

But damn, don’t it rock?  Ha – rock.  Get it?

Countertops - before
Countertops - before
Countertop - after (do you see the bread left of the sink?)

My first baking excursion since the project began was this morning – two more loaves of bread, just to be sure one more time that the recipe worked – because I am at heart a paranoid dork.  A PB&J and patty melt later, I am ready to divulge the goods I alluded to in my last tweet.

This bread recipe has been through the wringer (and probably should go through a few more rounds, but it’s pretty damn good now, in my humble opinion.  I’m thinking of asking it to marry me – The Man won’t mind).  The bread has a thick crust but such a soft, moist interior.  I have to get the second loaf in the freezer, because I am betting the first loaf will be at least half gone by the time I go to bed tomorrow night.

The best thing about this bread (IMHO again) is that it held up to a HUGE sandwich (1/2″ thick with meat, plus lettuce, tomato, cheese….all in all, the sandwich was 3″ tall when I got all my crap on it) without falling apart. Hear that?  No falling apart.  No toasting is necessary.  It’s not all crumbly and nasty.  It has chew.  And oh – did I mention crusty and soft, all at the same time?

Lookit that CRUST!
Lookit that CRUST!

I recently started doubling the recipe to make 2 loaves at a time (less time dinking around with rising and stuff) and it still works like a charm.

Multi-Grain Bread

Makes one 4×8 loaf

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup millet flour

1/3 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup amaranth flour

1/3 cup cornstarch

2/3 cup tapioca flour

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tbsp whole millet

2 tbsp oatmeal

1 tbsp flaxseed

If you want to be a little nutty with your bread, you can also add 1 tbsp each unsalted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

2 egg whites

1 1/4 cup warm water

1 tbsp yeast

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp dry milk powder

2 tbsp agave nectar

In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and agave nectar.  Set aside for 10 minutes so the yeast can bloom. In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

After the yeast has bloomed, turn the mixer paddle on low and slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically.  Add the oil and egg whites, continuing to beat on low speed.  When the oil and egg are incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, add the seeds, and continue to beat for 3 minutes.

While the dough is mixing, grease a 4×8 loaf pan (it works in a larger pan, but you won’t get as much height).  When the 3 minutes are up, pour the dough into the prepared pan.  Place the pan in a warm, safe place to rise for 45 minutes.  DO NOT ALLOW IT TO RISE MUCH LONGER THAN THIS!  I found out the hard way that the bread will end up losing height in the end.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  After rising, place the pan into the center of the oven and bake for 65 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan within 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven.

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