Sunday, August 30, 2009

gazpacho and fresh bread

It's a hot summer day today, so gazpacho seems to be a perfect fit. Great heirloom tomatoes from the Farmers market. Decided to try Mark Bittman's recipe from "Best Recipes In the World". I didn't have any "good quality stale bread", I decided to bake some of my own from the same book ("European White Bread"), with a little twist of my own.


Makes a giant bowl, serves 4-6

2 lbs tomatoes (1 giant heirloom and 1 large tomato)
1/3 English cucumber, peeled
1 red pepper, cored and seeded
1 garlic clove, peeled
4 slices stale bread (or toasted Fresh Bread*) + water for soaking
1 or more tbsp. good quality spanish Sherry vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish
1 cup water (plus more, see notes)

Take a slice of tomato, a thin slice of red pepper, and some cucumber. Mince each and set aside as garnish.

Soak bread in water for 5 minutes, then drain, and squeeze out remaining water.

Rough chop tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, and garlic. In two batches, add to food processor or blender, with about 1/2 cup water in each batch, puree until smooth.

Recombine in big soup bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Soak bread for 5 minutes in water, and squeeze out. In batches, add to blender, and puree for 3 minutes, add olive oil while running, puree for 1 more minute.

Strain thru chinois if a ultra-silky texture is required.

Garnish bowls with minced veggies.

Notes: Bittman calls for 6 cups of water! That's crazy! Jose Andres doesn't add any in one recipe I read, and adds only 2 cups in another. What is Bittman thinking? It appears cold water is added at the end to achieve a certain consistency. I think at most, 1 or maybe 2 cups water TOTAL is all that's necessary. Add more to improve a thin texture. I used 3 cups, and it was plenty, any more and it would be too watery.


  • Adding the bread and oil makes a very smooth, paler, creamy texture. The EVOO adds a pepperiness, depending on the style.
  • Very very delicious! Beckey and I really liked it.
  • Nice texture, very silky when thru chinois.
  • Vey refreshing! Great light dinner with a bottle of wine and some bread.

European White Bread

(Based on Bittman's recipe in "Best Recipes in the World"; I added sourdough starter for extra flavor, as well as a bit of olive oil for richness).

3 cups bread flour + 1 tbsp
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt

Combine flour, yeast, starter and water in mixer bowl. Knead on lowest setting with dough hook for 2 minutes. Cover and let rest for 20 min. Knead with dough hook for 20 minutes. Turn out onto a floured board, shape into round ball, and put in floured cloth proofing basket. Cover with inflated plastic bag (a fruit/veggie bag works well) and let rise for about 1 hour, until a little less than doubled.

At 1 hour, preheat the oven to 500 deg F. (Preheating will take about 30 min!)

Now watch your dough for the next 30 minutes or so. It was hot in the house today (probably about 78 degrees), and at 1.5 hours it was doubled but at 2 hours started to collapse. If it starts to collapse, probably overproofed, so it won't turn out as well, but still edible. Don't go more than 2 hours!

As soon as it's doubled, turn out gently onto well floured peel, slide onto baking stone, add 1 cup hot water to broiler pan at bottom, and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove and let cool on wire rack for 15-30 minutes before slicing.

  • Mine started to collapse, a bit overproofed. Didn't get a good oven spring, a fairly flat, biscotti height disk.
  • Pretty good crust browning & crunch and flavor, considering short rise time.
  • Try using milk instead of water!
  • I think possibly a little too wet. Cut down water (or milk) to 2/3 cup.
  • For next time, add 2 tbsp wheat germ or whole wheat flour; should give extra nuttiness

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