Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008



I can't help but wonder if, when I'm making any kind of bread, I or my kitchen are suddenly transported to the Sahara Desert?

Or am I, personally, arid?

Because, when I make any kind of bread dough, I systematically exceed the listed amount of water for a recipe.

I'm making focaccia. A recipe I've made dozens of times. I know it well. And while I have seen Jamie Oliver make his with a scant two cups of water, I know I'll use 3 1/2 cups of water, minimum.

Do I have some special ability that leeches moisture from the air when touching flour? I'd complain about the particular brand I'm using here, if this very thing didn't happen to me while in California, too.

I always begin with high hopes. I dutifully measure out the liquid, and when it comes time to pour it in, mentally cross my fingers (because, let's face it, my fingers are kind of busy just then).

Immediately, it's apparent I'll need more water (in this case). So, with my fingers entombed in a crust of dampened semolina and all-purpose flours, I pour a bit of water in a bowl, nuke it for a few seconds, add it to the measuring cup the yeast had proofed in (to get the last remnants of yeast-y goodness), and add it to the dough.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I'm not sure why I'm so surprised when this happens. It always happens. I suppose I'm just following the traditional cycle; this stage seems to be titled 'frustrations'.

But, the dough has been left to it's own devices, and that magic that is yeast is now belching flavorful gases and exponentially increasing the dough's mass. Soon, I can take out the aforementioned frustrations on the seemingly innocent dough, with pounding and poking.

It always works out. It's an amazing recipe, and I love it. But I'm always left wondering exactly What is up with me & flour?

8 Thoughts for food:

At 3:26 PM, Blogger breadchick said...


Without having baked bread in your kitchen before (but I'm open to be invited to do so!), I can't say if it is your kitchen that is now part of the African Sahara. But, humidity does indeed play a part about the amounts of water or flour you need to add. Also, the type of flour you are using (even between brands) can be a difference maker.

Tell you what, email me the focaccia recipe and when I get home from Moscow tomorrow night, I'll put it on the bake list for the weekend and see if I have to add water too. I know this doesn't solve the whole answer but for me it is a starting place.

Do you have a hygrometer? That is a nifty little gadget that tells temp and humidity all at the same time. I keep one in my kitchen to give me a clue when I'm baking bread what to expect.

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Brilynn said...

The first thing I wondered is how you're measuring your flour? By weight or in cups? Because although I've always known I have a heavy hand and generally add too much, I recently tried measuring out the flour for a recipe that gave measurements in both cups and grams and there was a HUGE difference between the two. Something to consider anyways...

At 8:12 AM, Blogger ostwestwind said...

As breadchick said is right, but Jamie lives in UK and that flour needs perhaps less water than yours. If I try to replicate an US recipe I have to use less water, much less water. And always weigh you flour, never use cups!

BTW: What about cosmetics? Did you get my mail about the shipping charts to US?

At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My fiance has exactly the same problem. We barely pay attention to water recommendations on bread recipes because we know it won't be enough. I think here in Colorado it's the lack of humidity and altitude but it was frustrating to say the least.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

breadchick, you are always welcome here! I just hope you don't have pet allergies...there's five big dogs here!

I emailed the recipe; did you get it?

And no, I don't have a how-ya-do-onater.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Brilynn...yeah, about that? I scoop. That's it. No measuring. I'm lazy.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

OWW: I hadn't thought of that. Less water? How weird.

So, what I'm picking up on here is that I should be weighing my flour...sigh. One more thing!

Yes, I got your email, and I've written back. And I thank you so very much!

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

n & j: I can't even begin to imagine what it's like baking in Colorado!!


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