A clean counter. No hint of the chaos that preceded this picture
48 hours ago, this counter top piled high with salmon. A 36-hour trip to the Kenai had been good to us and we had to process about 125 lbs of fresh sockeye salmon. This means filleting, trimming and vacuum sealing. For hours on end. It's tiring, smelly, and not very fun.
24 hours ago, this counter top was covered in salmon in big bowls of brine, getting ready to stick in the smoker. That's also quite labor-intensive, but after the "slime line" of filleting, it's actually quite pleasant.
Consequently, it might seem expected that this post would be about a salmon dish. Perhaps poached salmon dijonnaise? Veronique? Grilled with Lime, Sesame and Ginger Butter, perhaps? So many to choose from, I know.
But after a kitchen full of raw salmon for almost three days straight, the thought of it made me a little queasy. Ironic? Yes. Sad? Maybe. Changeable? No. Sue me, I didn't eat any of that salmon fresh.
I made bread instead.
Mise en place
Because I'm heading into a busy couple of weeks, I decided to double the recipe and make one loaf and 12 rolls. So, I started out pouring the molasses, water and yeast in this bowl, which was currently taking a break from brining. You know when you just get a feeling that something yeasty is about to... well.. grow? I definitely got this feeling here. I don't know if the molasses gave it a little extra kick, but as soon as I saw the yeast bloom, I knew where this was going. Big big loaves of bread!
I added some of the flour, and- What? I have to beat this batter for 10 minutes? Look, I'm a pretty strong kneader/whisker, but TEN MINUTES? Into the KitchenAid! (The bowl needed a break, anyway).
That sponge rested, while I played with my new iPad. Again- this sponge was just so lively, it doubled in about 20 minutes.
I added more flour, oil, salt and... wait, did the recipe say bran? Crap. For some reason I wrote down "wheat germ". Um... I don't really know why my brain did that, but whatever. I went with it. I added wheat germ instead of bran (I'd like to see if I can get through this project without a substitution of something) and carried on. Some light kneading later --I assume this is because the 10 minutes of beating built up a healthy amount of gluten-- and it went back into the big original bowl, because as I said, this dough is gonna rise. And rise it did. And then I forgot to take a picture.
The recipe says if you have time, you can punch down the dough for a second rising. It was a lazy Saturday, so I did that. I took the now-monstrous dough out of my oven (which is gas, so even when it's off, the pilot light keeps it toasty warm). I divided the dough in two, rolling out and rolling up half according to the directions. The other half I pulled off little balls and put them in a greased muffin tin. It came out pretty perfect, actually. Now, I remember seeing a video where someone demonstrates the proper technique for kneading and pulling dough for rolls, but I didn't do that. Mostly because I forgot about that video until I sat down to type this entry.
Ready for rise numero tres
So everything went back into the "cool" oven for another rise (that's number three if you're keeping track). I pulled it out after 25 minutes or so, and looky here- I think they proofed pretty good, huh? I dusted the tops with more wheat germ and stuck them in the oven.
The rolls came out of the oven 20 minutes later, and the bread about 40. The bread was indeed very very tall for a regular loaf. I look forward to nice big sandwiches. The rolls- which I had to try to make sure they were alright to take to a dinner party tonight- had a great crunchy crust, and nice crumb and a good flavor. The molasses was a nice touch- I always feel like it deepens the flavor some- and was excellent with butter and the last jar of last year's jam.
A nice break from salmon. But here's just a little tease of the fun we had this week. Or at least what made the "fun" all worth it.
Salty-sweet smoked salmon bellies. Is there anything better? I don't think there is!