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Rose's Alpha Bakers

Ricotta Loaf - The Bread Bible

Patricia Reitz

Ricotta Loaf, The Bread Bible - ButterYum

Ricotta Loaf, The Bread Bible - ButterYum

This was the loaf that almost wasn't.  I planned to make this bread with the assistance of my 17 year old daughter, but one thing led to another and before I knew it, I had to leave the house to teach a cooking class before we got around to mixing the dough.  As I headed out the door, I suggested she familiarize herself with the instructions and if she felt confident enough, she could make the dough without me.  

I arrived home a few hours later to a lovely bowl of rising dough and absolutely no signs of all the trouble my daughter had getting it to that state.  As I gave her a proud mom hug, she started telling me how long it took to make, and how stressful the whole process was.... We laughed as she shared her story.

What hadn't occurred to me when I left for work that night was the fact that she had never used the new food processor.  It's an awesome food processor, but it has many more parts than the old one - a couple of different sized work bowls, various disks, 3 different blades, a tall stem thing, a short stem thing, etc, etc.  Anyway, when she thought she finally had it assembled properly, she couldn't figure out how to twist the lid on (the old lid twisted - the new lid just presses on).  When she finally figured that out, the thing wouldn't turn on.  So she changed a few parts and wrestled with the lid again and still it wouldn't work.  When she finally did manage to get the machine to turn on, she said it only mixed "the top inch" of the ingredients.   So after probably an hour of nothing but frustration, she ended up dumping everything onto the counter and kneaded it by hand.  Incidentally, the only other bread making experience she had was once when she made this "no-knead" recipe.  I was so pleased that she didn't quit in frustration.... that she "conquered the dough".

Then she told me that there was still one little problem with the dough - she had forgotten to add the salt.   I made that same mistake many years ago and learned quickly that some things in this world are quite certain, including that fact that bread that has no salt = bread that has no flavor.  So considering the fact that everything else had gone wrong up to that point, I didn't see any harm kneading the missing salt into the already prepared dough.  By this time it was late and we were both tired so I put the dough in a zip-top bag and tossed it in the fridge overnight.  

The next day we pulled the dough out of the fridge to allow it to come to room temperature for a couple hours before shaping and baking, but our kitchen was very busy that day and we never got around to it.  So we deflated the dough and popped it back in the fridge for a second overnight stay.  

Long story short, basically the same thing happened again on day 3, only this time, we had completely forgotten about the dough and it sat out on the counter until the end of the day when my husband said, "what's in this bag?"  My daughter and I looked at each other and sighed.  Back into the fridge it went for its 3rd overnight stay.  By this time the dough had been so mishandled and abused, I honestly didn't know what was going to happen, but we were determined to bake that dough the next day, no matter what.  

I'm happy to report the loaf not only baked up beautifully, it developed a delicate sourdough flavor as well.  It was delightful and the family devoured it in a matter of hours.    

In conclusion - you could probably do just about everything wrong and still end up with a divine loaf of this wonderful ricotta bread.  

Since I wasn't home at the time, there are no photos of my daughter making the dough. This is what the dough looked like after being mixed and kneaded by inexperienced hands, having the missing salt added after the dough was already made, spending the night in the fridge, warming and rising at room temp for several hours on day 2, another overnight stay in the fridge, all day at room temp on day 3, another overnight stay, and finally another couple of hours coming to room temp on day 4.   Got that?  There will be a test at the end.

Since I wasn't home at the time, there are no photos of my daughter making the dough.

This is what the dough looked like after being mixed and kneaded by inexperienced hands, having the missing salt added after the dough was already made, spending the night in the fridge, warming and rising at room temp for several hours on day 2, another overnight stay in the fridge, all day at room temp on day 3, another overnight stay, and finally another couple of hours coming to room temp on day 4.  

Got that?  There will be a test at the end.

So here we are after what should have been a very short amount of time, but in actuality, we prolonged the process by 4 days.  Either way, it is now time to have some fun.  The dough is patted out into a rectangle.   I like to teach my students to use a pastry cloth when working with bread dough.  They're very user- friendly and they really cut down on the chances of incorporating too much flour into the dough.  They help contain the mess too.

So here we are after what should have been a very short amount of time, but in actuality, we prolonged the process by 4 days.  Either way, it is now time to have some fun.  The dough is patted out into a rectangle.   I like to teach my students to use a pastry cloth when working with bread dough.  They're very user- friendly and they really cut down on the chances of incorporating too much flour into the dough.  They help contain the mess too.

....she's checking the folding direction in the book (The Bread Bible).

....she's checking the folding direction in the book (The Bread Bible).

See how nice that dough pulls away from the pastry cloth.  Note there isn't a lot of excess flour sticking to the dough either.  

See how nice that dough pulls away from the pastry cloth.  Note there isn't a lot of excess flour sticking to the dough either.  

Tri-fold complete.

Tri-fold complete.

Time to roll the dough tightly.

Time to roll the dough tightly.

Then the dough is rolled into a log using gentle pressure with both hands.

Then the dough is rolled into a log using gentle pressure with both hands.

Then ends are tucked under.

Then ends are tucked under.

And the loaf is placed into a prepared loaf pan.   The one we're using is an antique that was given to me years ago, but a light colored commercial or professional grade pan will give you excellent results.  

And the loaf is placed into a prepared loaf pan.   The one we're using is an antique that was given to me years ago, but a light colored commercial or professional grade pan will give you excellent results.  

...she's checking to make sure she did everything as directed. 

...she's checking to make sure she did everything as directed. 

One last step before baking - cover than pan and allow the dough to rise before slicing the top of the loaf lengthwise.  Bake as directed.

One last step before baking - cover than pan and allow the dough to rise before slicing the top of the loaf lengthwise.  Bake as directed.

And there you go - a stunning loaf of beautiful homemade bread.  It was pure torture waiting for the loaf to cool so we could sample it, but when we did, we devoured almost the entire loaf. It disappeared at an alarming rate so when I noticed there was only an inch or so left, I hid it so I could get a daylight photo.  I think it's safe to say we'll be making this bread again.

And there you go - a stunning loaf of beautiful homemade bread.  It was pure torture waiting for the loaf to cool so we could sample it, but when we did, we devoured almost the entire loaf. It disappeared at an alarming rate so when I noticed there was only an inch or so left, I hid it so I could get a daylight photo.  I think it's safe to say we'll be making this bread again.