I have some extra bread in the house since I’ve been baking from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I started with the pugliese which didn’t turn out quite right. That bread is made from a wet dough and should be very open in structure with a chewy, holey crumb. The process of making the dough went fine, and it came out of the oven looking great. However, when I cut into the first loaf, I was less than thrilled with a somewhat tight crumb lacking those characteristic, gaping holes. Those two loaves went into the freezer for crouton use at a later date. I moved on to ciabatta with poolish. This is the same style of dough, and again, the bread should have been full of holes throughout the interior. Again, it was less than ideal. This time, the flavor was amazing, the texture was moist as it should be, but the structure was wrong. I’ve double- and triple-checked the recipes to be sure I didn’t skip something or do any step out of order, and I’ve concluded I’ll just need to keep practicing. The flavor of the ciabatta saved it from being doomed to the freezer, and I decided to make some cheesy toasts with it to hide the look of the failed crumb.
I received a sample of Normandie Camembert from Ile de France, and thought the earthy notes of the cheese would pair well with mushrooms. So, for the first of two toasts, I sauteed cremini mushrooms with chopped rosemary and scooped them onto slices of my ciabatta that had been toasted under the broiler with a drizzle of olive oil. I added camembert which instantly softened and melted its way around the mushrooms. This was a camembert with character, a red wine kind of cheese, and mushrooms were the right choice to go with it.
The second type of toast is from Donna Hay magazine. I mentioned I had cut several pages from that last issue I read. This toast version was made by schmearing harissa on the toasted bread and then topping it with marinated artichoke quarters and adding fresh mozzarella. Once built, these toasts went back under the broiler so the mozzarella could transform into a deliriously oozy, lovely state. It’s an interesting combination and one I never would have thought to create, but the spicy harissa and marinated artichokes were delicious under the melted cheese. Even if you have perfect bread that can proudly show its face, both of these toppings are worth trying.
I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting where you’ll find some seriously well-made bread.