I want someone else to bake this Moro bread so we can discuss. It's stunningly easy if you have a mixer. This is the third batch, and it's better than almost any bread I've ever baked, and I've baked a lot of bread.
The recipe below is true to the book, but I've added slightly more salt. I've left the metric measurements in because I fear conversions might jinx the excellent results, so you'll need a scale. I hope someone tries it and tells me what they think.
1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon yeast in 125 ml. tepid water.
2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 700 ml. tepid water, 1 kg. bread flour (or plain), and the yeasty water. Mix until smooth and elastic. It will be too wet to handle.
3. Oil 2 bread pans and sprinkle with flour. Pour in the dough. You'll need a rubber spatula to ease it into the pans.
4. Cover with a damp towel and let rise for 3-5 hours or until doubled.
5. Heat oven to 450. Bake loaves for 30 minutes, then remove from the pans and bake on the oven rack for 15 minutes more.
The crust on this bread is hard and crackly, and when you slice there are biggish bubble holes.
The flavor and chewy texture are, in my opinion, perfect, like the best artisanal bread but in sandwich-friendly loaf form. And it's simpler than Mark Bittman/Jim Lahey no-knead bread because you don't have to think a day ahead. In future, I might increase the salt even more, and try to omit the flouring of the pans. I also wonder if you really need a separate step for dissolving the yeast.
My sister-in-law, Amy, is visiting and we have spent a lot of time talking about food, though we come at it from very different perspectives. She's writing her dissertation on food in women's prisons, but she is not, herself, a cook. She said, "I feel about cooking like I do about skiing. I don't care if I can ski, and I really don't care if I can cook." She goes to Stop & Shop and buys the same reliably tasty things every week-- chicken, veggie burgers, pre-made pesto, pre-crumbled goat cheese, and then comes home and assembles it. I, on the other hand, spend untold hours obsessing about what I'm going to cook and then cooking it. Is this perhaps the reason that I, unlike Amy, will never have a PhD?
For dinner, I served the Moro's version of harira, a classic North African soup that includes a lamb shank, lots of vegetables, turmeric, chickpeas and lentils. Moro: "We always imagine the name of this soup being spoken with a guttural Islamic tongue, and being eaten without ceremony at the edge of a busy bus stations somewhere in Morocco. The flavours of the spices and coriander are very evocative, and only the bus fumes are missing. "
Malaga raisin ice cream was a fiasco. I had frozen some heavy cream a while back, defrosted it for the ice cream, thought it looked a bit grainy but since it tasted okay went ahead and used it. Lesson: don't ever do this. When churned, this ice cream contained little flecks of hard butter. "You shouldn't have told me!" said Amy. "I thought those were tiny white chocolate chips."
In other news, my mother is very sick. I don't know how to weave this into my goofy food blog, and the idea of trying to do so makes me way too sad. But if I'm going to keep writing a blog that is any way honest, I can't pretend it's not happening. I'll just leave it at that for now.