And what can I say about Michael! Well, actually, not much. We did not exactly sit together. Or talk. But he was definitely THERE when we walked in. He did leave right after we got there, but I am pretty sure he did not leave only because we came in. Anyway, his aura certainly lingered with us during our lunch. And really, that whole space/time continuum thing is just a human construct to help us understand our place in the universe. So, as I said, da Girlz and I had lunch with Iron Chef Michael Symon.
As for the assignment, we are back to baking gluten-free again. It is not that we do not use flour, it is that we do not use wheat flour. Instead, these breads use brown rice flour, sorghum flour, and tapioca flour. As a stand-in for the gluten, we use a "gum," in my case guar gum because it was cheaper than the xanthan gum called for in the recipe. Rather than making a whole batch, since we only had to make one loaf and some crackers, I made a half batch. That is one of the (many) nice aspects of the AB/HB in 5 method, you can easily adjust the size of your batch to suit your needs.
When I made gluten-free dough for previous assignments the dough was very wet, almost like a batter. This dough was better, though still soft and sticky. I mixed it, let it rise, and then refrigerated it overnight. Next day, I formed the loaf, using wet hands instead of flour, and let it rise in my duct-tape couche. I baked it in my cast iron pot, covered for 2/3 of the time, then uncovered.
I think it baked up pretty nicely. There was a good crust, and a nice crumb. As before, I noticed a sheen to the inside of the holes in the bread, perhaps due to the gum?
The overall texture was different than wheat bread, softer or more tender, but not in a "Wonder Bread" kind of way, more dry rather than doughy. Obviously, this texture difference was due to the lack of gluten.
All and all, this was one of my better efforts at baking gluten-free bread.
As for the crackers, not so much.
The recipe called for rolling the dough out on a silicone mat to a thickness of 1/16 of an inch after covering the dough with plastic wrap to prevent sticking. Did that. Then we were to CAREFULLY score the dough with a pizza cutter (carefully so as to not cut the mat). Did that.
Then, we brushed it with water (I spritzed), sprinkled with sesame seeds (I used black sesame seeds), and baked it at 400 for 15 minutes. Did that.
Well, rolling to an even 1/16th of an inch is easier said than done, as the picture attests. I got a thinner area in the middle, which over-browned (burned) well before the rest was done. And the score lines vanished. Disappeared without a trace. Without the scoring I just broke the sheet into free-form crackers, took off the overdone parts, and finished baking the rest.
Now 1/16th of an inch is not very thick. I wandered the house with my trusty caliper, measuring things.
A thin bamboo skewer is twice that thick, about 1/8th of an inch. So is the cardboard on a box from Amazon. A compact disc is about 1/16th of an inch. And so, too, are two of those big rubber bands you get around celery and asparagus and broccoli. So I put some of those rubber bands on the ends of my rolling pin. (Because I had to stretch them a bit to get them on, I used 3 on each side.)
Then I rolled away. I used less dough, about half what was called for, to make it easier to work with. The dough had gotten wetter as it sat, and that combined with the absence of gluten made it very easy to roll out. I spread the dough on my silicone mat, covered it with plastic wrap, and rolled away. It was slicker 'n snot! It rolled out very evenly.
The crackers baked very evenly, and turned out well. The only change I would make would be to perhaps bake them a bit longer than I did, but I was a little gun-shy after the over-baked (burned) fiasco of my first effort.