Summer’s last hurrah in a loaf of bread
Can we pretend for a second that fall isn’t on its way? Can I replace the brown and yellow leaves falling from the trees with healthy green foliage? Can the nights stay warm? Please?
I sense the universe is not listening to my pleas. The air is already cooler, crisper, and the roads are crowded with yellow school buses. If back-to-school sales and the smell of number 2 pencils and Crayola crayons don’t scream fall, nothing does.
But this is a bread for people who like to delude themselves. This is Endless Summer bread, the kind that you might eat as a kid at the start of vacation, when three months of freedom really do seem endless. Fresh from the garden with zucchini, carrot, and apple, it also has the distinction of being disgustingly healthy.
This recipe, from Cooking Light, pushed my lazy baker tendencies to the limit. Cooking Light is one of those magazines that insists on doing everything by the book. The flour measurements are given first by weight (4.5 ounces, if anyone’s interested) and then, for the rest of us peons not inclined to whip out the kitchen scale, by volume (1 cup). The best cookbooks and food bloggers will tell you that weighing dry ingredients is the best way to get a consistent product. And if you’re not going to use a scale, then at least use the “scoop and sweep” method: Scoop the flour into the measuring cup by spoonfuls, then sweep across the top, using a knife as a level. Honestly, how many people actually do that? (Dear reader, perhaps you do. Perhaps I am the lazy outlier. Hmm.) I just dip my measuring cup into the flour container and level the top with whatever’s handy, usually the edge of a spoon. The whole reasoning behind weighing and “scoop and sweep” is that not only does the size of measuring cups vary, but flour packed into the cup will naturally be more than flour that loosely sits in it. The two methods are designed to get a standard amount of flour or sugar into the cup. So yes, I get it. But have I used either method? No, because my baked goods always seem to turn out just fine. I’ve never had a bad loaf of this garden harvest bread, for example. Usually my mistakes are related to my far more serious crimes of laziness – melting the butter in a cookie recipe to make it easier to beat into the sugar instead of creaming it cold. That’s a far greater crime than avoidance of “scoop and sweep.” And yet, I live to bake another day!