Carl Gohs’ Bread
May 1, 2011

by stacy
Published on: May 1, 2011
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[Carl Goh’s] bread is quite a lot of trouble to make, but it has interesting flavor…
-James Beard, Beard on Bread

I was forewarned by James Beard himself at the beginning of this recipe that this bread would be “trouble.”  How much trouble?  I started the bread at 3:00, thinking that it would be ready for dinner.  At 8:30, five and a half hours later, after the dinner dishes were long gone, the bread came out of the oven.

It all started, so long ago, with these ingredients:

Carl Gohs' Bread Ingredients

The secret ingredient in front is a potato, leftover from our Easter dinner.

The whole process began with a starter of water, yeast, and brown sugar that I had to let work for an hour.  Meanwhile, I boiled and mashed the potato and blended it with water to make an oh-so-appetizing bowl of “potato slurry”.  After my starter was ready, I mixed the starter, potato slurry, and dry ingredients together to make a “second sponge” that looked like mud and smelled like a brewery.  For some reason, Beard and/or Carl Gohs recommend mixing everything in a stainless steel pan with straight sides and a flat bottom.  I used my stock pot, but in retrospect my regular mixing bowl would have worked just as well–and would have been much easier to clean the dough out of.

While the second sponge rose, I started some pea soup for dinner.  I let the sponge rise for one and a half hours, and then kneaded a cup of flour into it.  I had to add some water to get the dough to hold together.  At this point,  I was thinking to myself that I had already been working on this *$%#ing bread for three hours, and it hadn’t even had its first rising yet.

I took a break to watch 60 Minutes. By 7:00, the bread was ready to be shaped into loaves.  Mr. Gohs (who I was beginning to resent by this point) twists the loaf of dough before putting into the bread pan.  Following his lead, I twisted my dough and created some very deformed looking loaves.  The soup was ready, so we had dinner while the dough underwent its second rising.

Carl Gohs' Bread After Second Rising

The loaves were ready to go into the oven at 8:00.  Because absolutely nothing about this recipe was simple, I had to preheat the oven all the way to 450 degrees, and then turn it down to 400 degrees as soon as I put the bread in.  The bread was done after baking for 30 minutes.

Carl Gohs' Bread

After five and half hours, I wasn’t inclined to let the bread cool before cutting a slice off to sample.  It had a complex flavor–a fermented taste from the starter, a hint of potato, a whole-grain note from the wheat germ, and a hefty amount of salt.  Was it delicious?  Absolutely.  Was it worth five and half hours?  For me, probably not.  On the bright side, the upcoming recipe for “Carl Gohs’ Zucchini Bread” uses baking soda instead of yeast, and there is not a starter in sight.  I may come to love Mr. Gohs yet.

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