Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Baked Goods

It's been unusually wintry in Las Vegas this month, and wintry weather (even when the sun is nearly always shining) puts me in mind of stews and casseroles and baked goods. I rarely admire photos of stews and casseroles, so I never take any. Somehow, all that lumpy, molten deliciousness looks disgusting in two-dimensional form. So you'll have to trust me that the beef stew, chili, chicken tetrazzini, and barbecued pulled pork were everything you might hope for in warming winter food.

Baked goods, on the other hand, manage to look as mouthwatering in two dimensions as they do in three. Photos of bread just pulled from a super-hot oven evoke the fragrance of the yeast and the cracking sound a crisp crust makes as it cools (the French call this "singing," which I love). Go ahead - try it. Can you smell the whole wheat and olive oil in the rustic Italian boule? The semolina in the scored loaf? How about the cinnamon, raisins and oats in the second boule?

 My first attempt at homemade bagels a few months ago (sorry, no pix) was a huge success, so much so that it made me wonder why it's all but impossible to get a decent bagel out in the world. Time and patience were the main ingredients; the tangible ingredients and the process couldn't have been much simpler. Buoyed by that success, I decided pizza crust probably wasn't overly difficult either. And it wasn't! I'm not a big fan of pizza (shocking for a Chicagoan, I know), but I do love a crisp, brown, chewy, slightly charred pizza crust.

You can absolutely smell the pizza, can't you?

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