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Wednesday January 4, 2006 // By Sarah

Pseudo-science with Sarah (with recipe!)

It turns out that I am a hilarious (and/or tragic) combination of a total control freak perfectionist and a total flake.

I’m making a baby sweater. Why would I follow the pattern? Why, when I could use a different yarn, different gauge, and different stitch? Oh, and why knit the sleeves from the wrist up, as given, when I could make up a wacky new way of doing them from the shoulder down. Of course, if the control freak in me manages to point out, say, that the baby won’t be able to raise her arms in these wacky sleeves, I’ll rip the whole damn thing out without a second thought.

This system is inefficient.

So, knowing that I have a tendency to experiment blindly and needing to make six pizza crusts, I decided it was time to get serious and measure some variations, like flour amounts and whether or not I added wheat gluten.

Of course, far be it from me to be precise about it. My notes on the differences between recipes are full of notes like “more sugar” (how much?) or “longer proof time” (how long?).

And the kicker is, nobody could identify a difference between any of the crusts! Of course they may have been led astray by the yummy toppings: spinach and ricotta, chicken sausage and apples, potatoes and herbs, artichoke hearts and goat cheese, and the “hawaiitalian”—prosciutto and pineapple.

For your eating pleasure, Sarah’s Highly Alterable Without Noticeable Effect Day-Before Dough:

  • Combine about a half cup of warm water with about 2 tsp of active dry yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. Set aside.
  • Put about three cups of all-purpose flour and maybe a few teaspoons of wheat gluten and a teaspoon of salt in your food processor, with the plastic dough blade if you’ve got it.
  • When the yeast mixture is foamy, add more liquid (water and/or milk) to make about a cup total liquid.
  • Turn the food processor on. Through the tube feed a tablespoon of olive oil, then half the liquid, then another tablespoon of olive oil, then the rest of the liquid (really slowly).
  • After a while the mass will start to cohere. Let it roll around in there for a few minutes. If it’s really sticky, knead in more flour.
  • Form it into a nice ball and stick it in a freezer bag with some olive oil to roll around in (a teaspoon maybe). Push out all the air when you close the bag.
  • Stick it in the fridge.
  • The next day, the bags will have puffed up along with the dough. For some reason ours smelled really bad—like they’d fermented or turned to sourdough. And yet they tasted fine when cooked.

I have no idea how that worked out.

That’s my inner flake’s common refrain. My inner perfectionist hopes to always be saying this in response to the phrase, “this is awesome! How did you do it?”

Posted by Adrienne // Jan 5, 20:32
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