The message came in on Facebook: “What screams Glenn’s birthday more than ramen! Please join us for a potluck and birthday celebration. All dishes must be ramen based! Please reply and choose a dish to bring.”
There was really only one choice… bread of course! But.. can one actually make bread out of “oodles of noodles?” I had to try.
Some regular flour would be required, of course: probably 20% or 30%. However (I reasoned), noodles are mainly wheat, right? It should be possible to make the rest out of dried noodles.
In thinking about it, my main worry was salt. In making bread, salt is pretty much the only ingredient you really have to get right. But how much (if any) salt is contained in a “brick” of noodles?
Quick! To the Google! Unfortunately, after much searching, I was beginning to lose hope. Then I found it. If this site is to be believed, one brick contained 220mg salt.
With that information, I was ready to give it a try. I headed to Costco and picked up a flat of ramen. I pulled out the food processor and started grinding up noodes.
Based on my calculations, I would need almost a kilogram of ramen for the bread. At 80 grams per brick, this amounted to 12 packages of noodles. Unfortunately, the pasta was surprisingly unwilling to be rendered back into flour. After much grinding, I started to worry about the food-processor overheating. Even in small batches, I had to let the machine rest and cool off from time to time.
Eventually, I was done… I had noodle-dust ready to be turned into dough.
I decided to try for both baguettes and boules. The dough was stiff — very stiff. I suppose this was to be expected since most noodles use semolina flour. Also — who knows what else they put into those noodles? The dough resisted being worked and would not relax.
Hoping for the best, I set it aside to rise. It did not seem to expand much during — I expect that the stiff dough may have been a bit much for my yeasties to overcome. Eventually, I crossed my fingers and shuffled my loves into the hot oven.
They did have a respectable oven-jump, but coming out of the oven, the loaves felt dense. I began to worry that they would be a doughy mess in the middle. I sacrificed a baguette to be sure. The texture was — different. It was definitely bread, but with a very dense crumb. It was also moist, but not unpleasantly so..
I would not say that they were the best looking loves I ever made, but they did at least look like bread instead of noodles. The last step was to prepare some spreads to go on the bread. I made two special batches of flavored butter: chicken and beef — using the ramen flavor packets, of course!
So how did they taste? The consensus at the party was that they were delicious. I walked away with the prize for “most creative dish.”