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Monday, September 14, 2009

want some bread, mate?

remember the cookbook/restaurant challenge thingy i signed up to take part in? well, today's the day that all of the participants are blogging about it. and in classic wan style, i totally procrastinated and didn't choose a restaurant to sample until this weekend. heh.

MIL had spent last week in utah with FIL, since it was their anniversary week, and when they landed on friday evening, i got a phone call.

"we're hungry, where do you guys feel like eating?"

i just happened to be perusing my book, so i flipped through and blurted out the first thing i saw: "how about


and half an hour later, that's exactly where we were.

since i'd taken advantage of call-ahead seating, the ILs were already settled at a table when we arrived. hugs all around, and then i got to work.

i'd decided to use the marinated steak recipe out of the book, and so i chose a simple entree - the "outback special." the waitress apologized for not bringing bread over right away and explained that she was just waiting for it to come out of the oven. and i remembered seeing the recipe for that in the book, too, so i decided to add that to my restaurant challenge.

funny though, while the bread was just as chewy and sweet as it usually is, it sure wasn't hot. it was barely warm - so much for her "we're baking some right now" excuse. hmph.

my pictures aren't fabulous - it was dark in there, but i hate using flash. so this is as good as it gets.

while the steak had great flavor, that shit was like chewing a tire. it was so tough and rubbery, i decided right then and there that i was going to use a much better cut of meat.

but this made up for it - their signature "chocolate thunder from down under." the bean, FIL and i happily dug our spoons into this.

it was quite a busy weekend, and the only time i had to make my outback copycat dinner was sunday night, after i got home from a day at the spa (more to follow on that, of course). i flipped the book open, checked out both recipes, and found that the steaks were to soak in beer for an hour before seasoning.

after i'd covered the pan with plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge, i set about gathering ingredients for the bread:

i hadn't imagined that there might be cocoa and coffee in the bread, but i went with it.

the recipe gave directions for using a breadmaker, but the only one of those in my house is ME. so i just adapted the instructions based upon what little i already knew from my breadmaking extravaganzas of late. i warmed water in the microwave, stirred in the yeast and sugar, and let it sit till it looked like this:

i combined all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then poured honey and the foamy yeast in. just as described in the recipe, it formed quite a sticky dough.

i covered the bowl with a damp towel, consulted the book again, and pulled out the stuff to make the rub for the meat.

we were serving this at the grandparents', so we trucked it all downstairs and into the car and headed over to meet up with the bean, who'd gone over there after watching the angels game with the hub and the ILs.

my bread dough had only risen slightly after the first hour, which worried me a little. we were already behind schedule (the grandparents are true earlybird diners - they generally have dinner on the table by 6, and it was already that), and i still needed to let it rise a second time, plus season the meat. and then that had to sit for half an hour before it could go on the grill! ugh. talk about being under the gun.

i divided the dough into eight portions, but it was so sticky that i couldn't form them into the proper loaf shapes. fuck it. nobody would care as long as it tasted good. and i fervently hoped that would be the case. i sprinkled the tops with cornmeal, covered them with plastic, and set them aside to rise again.

i was a little worried about how late it was getting, so i resorted to an old trick i'd read about somewhere a long time ago. i turned the oven on to 200 degrees, pulled the plastic off the "loaves," stuck the pans in there and shut the oven off again. this is supposed to fool the yeast into activating quickly, and after 15 minutes, i pulled them out and turned the oven back on to 350 to bake. they still hadn't risen as much as i thought they should have, but i forged ahead.

and when it had reached the right temperature, back in they went for 20 minutes to bake. i'd already rubbed the meat with my seasoning mixture and it was time, so i handed the pan to FIL so he could take it outside and work his magic on the grill.

in the meantime, i was thrilled to peek into the oven and see that the bread was rising nicely after all. i'd forgotten that it continues to rise as it bakes, and it looked and smelled heavenly.

the steaks were cooked to perfection, as usual, and you'll notice that i used bacon-wrapped filets instead of regular old top sirloin. come ON, you knew i had to work bacon in there somewhere!

all in all, dinner was a success despite the lateness of the hour (we sat down around 7:30). the bread was piping hot and was even better than the original (in my humble opinion), and six out of the eight "loaves" were devoured happily by the table. the beef was really good - but we all agreed that, better cuts of meat aside, the flavor wasn't really anything like the steaks we'd had at outback a few nights before.
this is a pretty fun cookbook. there are actually lots of other things in there that i want to try (boston market's creamed spinach, KFC's "secret" fried chicken spices", so i'll have a great time cooking my way through it.
you're excited, right? i know you are.


  1. Wan- I read your blog daily but this is my first comment :-) Just an FYI, Outback doesn't bake the bread there....it is delivered daily :-) They just put it through a bread warmer - which I'm guessing is what she meant by "oven". In a former life, one marred by college textbooks, I worked at Outback. Great job at the time, especially the discounted food! Your pictures are making me hungry!

  2. I also cooked the Outback Marinated Steak and felt the one at the restaurant had more flavor. The bread looks great!

  3. I want that cook book! Where'd you get it?

  4. If you need an "expert" to taste your rendition of the KFC fried chicken, you know who to call.

  5. The bread look fabulous! And I'm all about bacon wrapped around steak. Mmmmm.

  6. dood, you had steak at outback - filet it is not.

    but I'm happy to hear your re-creation was a success!

  7. Ooooh I would LOVE to try your bread someday. I love love love Outback's bread.

  8. I can believe yours was better than Outbacks - I've never been impressed with that restaurant and the hubs refuses to even eat there.


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