Lahey's Carrot Loaf
(with Walnuts and Currants)
Baked in a Dutch Oven in the Barbecue
I mixed up the ingredients the day before.
This dough sat out for a full 23 hours before I attempted to use it. And I'm not convinced that it was fully fermented: I didn't see much rise, and no bubbles. I am beginning to wonder if my yeast was less than useful.
Despite all the currants and walnuts in the dough, it was fairly easy to work with, using the pastry slicer: just grab some dough with the flat of the slicer on one side, pull it out and up and over, and repeat. Nothing to it.
This was the first time I ever used my Dutch oven (excluding the time I cured it on the barbecue). I was unfamiliar with how hot it could get in my Dutch Oven, but I knew from the pizzas I've been baking on the outdoor grill that the temperature could easily reach 700 degrees. At least, that's where the temperature guage tops out at.
I preheated the pot for 20 minutes, and noticed at that point that the temperature was already 700 degrees with the lid down, so I backed off a bit on the propane controls (which were already set only to medium). The dough was plopped in, and I set the timer for 30 minutes. That was probably a mistake.
Lahey's loaves bake in a Dutch oven in a kitchen oven set to 475 degrees in 30 minutes with the lid on, and then with the lid off for another 30 minutes. I was actually thinking I had to remove the lid and let this loaf bake for another 15 minutes. But no, when I took the lid off, I realized I had already over-baked it.
The loaf was also a little stuck to the bottom of the pot, something which I've never had happen before, when using a casserole or other oven proof pot in the kitchen. I just knocked it a bit with a wooden spoon and it came free for me.
The bread is certainly well-done. But do I dare eat it? Look at all the acrylamide. At least half of the loaf will need to be tossed away, it is now just blackened char.
The crumb, when I got past my disappointment and regained the will to cut into this loaf, was actually not all that bad. The burned parts were quite external, and the bottom could be easily cut off, with very little waste. And the taste was interesting, as Lahey promises in his book, with a hint of chocolate.
Notes to Myself:
- Is it time to give up baking and leave it to the professionals? Hah! Not now when I'm so close! Actually, it's true -- I've had a lot of spectacular bread failures lately, and it is enough to make me want to retreat to something familiar. But don't! Try the next thing, and the next. Keep working at the barbecue temperature controls until you find something that works.
- For example, re: the temperature on the barbecue: if the guage reads 700 degrees, you can open the lid for a while as you turn down the propane controls. This should quickly dissipate the heat.
- Now that the Dutch oven is cured and has been used, you shouldn't have a problem with the burning of the oil on the surface of it any longer. Try using it once in the kitchen oven, to get a feel for how it bakes when you can better control the temperature.
- Try this recipe again before you lose heart.