So much has happened in the past 3 weeks since my last post its amazing and pretty life changing! First off I’m an aunt! Little Ava was born August 21st and she is the love of the family’s life. Right now she pretty much eats, sleeps and makes the most hilarious faces.
Also, I moved to Napa for culinary school! I will be here for the next two years and I can’t wait for things to start next week. But needless to say moving to the complete other half of the state has been a process! I drove up with my parents (about 8 hours on labor day weekend with people wine tasting over the long weekend) only to unpack all of my boxes and find out that somehow all of my kitchen appliances, pots, pans, mixing bowls, utensils did not make the trip with me. Oh irony… going to cooking school and not having a single thing in your kitchen except a coffee maker and vitamix! I ended up driving home with my parents, only to find out that my box of kitchen stuff never even made it into storage after I moved home from college. I was devastated. I spent the afternoon mopping around and scouring deals online to restock a kitchen cheaply… Costco came to the rescue. I then proceeded to do the 8 hour drive for a third time in 5 days.
Besides that little detour, and by little I mean an extra 16 hours of driving, things are finally feeling settled up here. On friday I went to the farmers market for the first time in my town (only about 6,000 people here) and was so exited to see prune plums at several stands! If you have followed me for a while, you will know I live prune plum season to make my grandma’s plum cake recipe so this just really made me happy. I stopped at one stand and there were other small plums next to the prune plums, so I started asking the lady at the stand what they were, she said that her german customers like to use these plums in a traditional yeast cake… right then and there any doubt in my mind about moving was completely erased. Other people make plum cake here!!! I feel at home already.
Unfortunately, as I got home started to make my dough and stone my plums I discovered my oven doesn’t work. (Trying to just laugh this off and ride the irony wave again instead of getting mad). Until it gets repaired I’m looking into how to bake bread on my charcoal grill and apply the methods to plum cake… I’m desperate here for a method besides an oven to bake!!
Here is my first attempt at bread on the grill. I got a cheap little charcoal bbq that was on sale and I’d never used charcoal before. Either I’m just naturally predisposed to make bread on a grill, or I had serious beginners luck, because this might just be the best bread I’ve made to date!
I used the basic recipe from Tartine with my own starter(Yes, when I moved I brought my own yeast with me!). I think I didn’t measure the water properly and assume I was about 75 grams too little because of the constancy of my dough, but it was very easy to work with and the results were amazing – really crunchy crust, pillowy chewy inside with a moderate sized crumb.
- For the baking of the bread, I lit the charcoals right after I made the final shaping of the dough, I also put the roasting pan and grates that came in my oven on the top rack and let that heat up as a vessel for steam.
- When the charcoals were starting to develop a layer of white ash (about 30 minutes) I placed the shaped loaf into a cast iron skillet, sliced the top of the bread with a very sharp ceramic knife
- Pour about 2 cups of water into the roasting pan then place the cooker on the grates above the roasting pan and close the grill to create steam.
- Let cook until it is golden brown and crispy to the touch – if you dare you can pick it up and knock to see if it sounds hollow. (it took me about 90 minutes)