Take your Dough to Work Day
Far be it from me to complain about having a job in this economy, but there are certain inconveniences for the food blogger engaged by day in the 9 to 5 grind. Like bread-baking: for me, it has to be a weekend activity, since even if you take the delayed-fermentation route — doing most of the work the day before — dough needs to be taken out of the refrigerator two hours before baking. Try that on a weeknight after work and you won’t be eating delicious bread until well after nine.
It’s a shame, too, because what better time for the comforts and reassurances of a fresh-baked loaf of bread than after a day of the humiliations of office labor? No better time, that’s what. So today I decided to stop whining about my problems and actually do something about them: I took a friend with me to work.
We had a nice bike ride through the snow, my bread dough and I, enjoying the subtly rutted and newly slushy streets and trails of Minneapolis. One nice thing is that I did not have to worry about my dough fermenting prematurely during my ride, since the ambient temperature in Minnesota right now is far colder than a refrigerator.
When I arrived at work, the dough went straight to the fridge and I was off to a dedicated and productive day. I only allowed my focus to break away from my labors at the stroke of three, when it was time to take the dough out to warm up. I set it by the water cooler, where I am sure it had many conversations with my coworkers about the latest happenings in sports and popular culture.
Soon enough five o’clock rolled around, and it was time for my dough and I to end our day on the job. Just a short bike ride home separated me from baking and weekday-bread-induced bliss.
Since I knew I wouldn’t have much time to shape and proof the dough once I got home, I had planned on making a simple bread, and it doesn’t get much simpler in terms of shaping than focaccia: just take the wet mass of dough, plop it down in a sheet pan coated with olive oil, pour on some more olive oil, rest a half hour, and then bake at 425ºF for about 20 minutes, until the bread looks brown and crispy. If you’re wondering about my dough recipe, it was:
- 12 oz AP flour
- 12 oz whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp yeast
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 18 oz water
With the overnight fermentation, it’s not that important to knead this dough — a good thing, too, because at 75% hydration kneading would be a challenge.
Proofing and baking the dough gave me the perfect amount of time to put together the rest of dinner. The bread came out very well, and much sooner than would have been possible without bringing it to the office. I think I’ve found my new commute partner.