24 November 2009

My Bread

If you cook, or read the New York Times, or watch television, you have no doubt seen Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery showing you his no-knead approach to bread making. Most good bakers knew you could proof dough in the refrigerator. Julia Child’s husband, Paul, bought bricks at the hardware store to line Julia’s oven for bread making. Some people would take terra cotta flower pots from the garden center and make mini-ovens in their stoves. Even ugly dough seems to look better AFTER an hour in the oven. But when Jim Lahey took is sloppy dough and threw it in a Le Creuset pan, the world was mesmerized. It was like inventing the wheel.

My Bread is is the hardback follow-up. Chocked full of bread recipes and other things it is well worth the money, especially if you have ever made his bread. Lahey and co-author Rick Flaste have compiled a winner of a book. Lahey tells a funny ( yet tragically hip tale) of the results of his first New York Times article. Most New Yorkers possessed a Le Creuset cast iron pan and it seemed the likely choice for this bread. Unfortunately, those nifty handle “buttons” on the top of the lids are not meant to withstand temperatures of 450 F, so many of them broke. What’s a hip New Yorker to do? Well, evidently, the answer is to go to your favorite cooking supply emporium and steal yourself a new one. Really people!

So as not to tempt you to go out a-stealin’, we are offering up a non-bread recipe.

Tortino di Cioccolat

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
4 large eggs, separated
¼ cup fine dry Homemade Bread Crumbs
pinch table salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a small saucepan over low heat(or in a bowl n the microwave), melt the butter. Combine the chocolate with 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a medium bowl, add the hot melted butter, and stir a few times. Let sit for 3 or 4 minutes to melt the chocolate, then stir until smooth.
3. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Mix in bread crumbs very thoroughly.
4. Put the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted whit the whisk attachment. Whip at medium speed until the whites are foamy, then reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. Raise the speed to medium and continue whipping until the whites form stiff peaks (if they become dry or clumpy, they’re overwhipped and will not give the torte the light, smooth texture it needs; dump them and start over with new egg whites). Use a rubber spatula or whisk to fold a large scoop of the meringue into the chocolate mixture until incorporated (this will lighten it), then gently fold in the remaining meringue.
5. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Fill each cup approximately three-quarters full. Bake the tortini for about 10 minutes, until the are puffed up and just set in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack. The tortini will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for three days.

Truth be told, these are glorified, Italian brownies, but they are such a delight. And frankly, I love a cookbook author who tells you if you screw up, dump it out and start over! A man after my own heart.

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