Jan 24, 2010

I'm A Bread Baker!

I'm afraid of baking bread.  It reminds me of my years of struggling with math; I would sort of get mathematical concepts but I always seemed to skip a step which would result in countless wrong answers.

When I was a kid I tried to bake a loaf of bread shaped like a teddy bear.  I forgot to let it raise a second time and ended up with a teddy bear brick (a delicious brick, which I managed to eat, but a brick nonetheless).

I was asked to review a book on bread baking and I offered to test a recipe.  My bread baking fears are over!


My dough, mid-knead.  I lurve kneading.  It ranks up there with patting a washed whole chicken dry and sitting it on the counter like a little naked baby.  Totally normal.


Post knead.  So satisfying already.


After it rested in an oiled bowl covered in plastic, I shaped it into a "biguette" (my little sister's made up word because my baguette was so ginormous-funny sister).  My biguette then rested, uncovered for 30 minutes to create a nice "skin", which helps develop a crust during baking.


Beauty.  Wish you could smell it.  Right up there with movie popcorn.


Not a brick!  This was real bread that tastes REAL GOOD.


I am completely inspired.  I plan on making bread for all my clients.  In a world afraid of carbs, it is heartening to  feed someone bread with five simple ingredients:  yeast, sugar, flour, water and salt.


1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt

In a large bowl sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. With a wooden spoon stir in 2 cups flour until combined. Stir in salt and 2 cups of remaining flour until mixture forms a stiff dough. On a lightly floured surface knead dough with lightly floured hands 8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, kneading in enough of remaining 1/2 cup flour to keep dough from sticking. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled deep bowl, turning to coat with oil, and let rise, bowl covered with plastic wrap, until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Punch down dough and form into a long slender loaf about 21 inches long and 3 inches wide. Put loaf diagonally on a lightly greased large or 17- by 14-inch baking sheet and let rise, uncovered, about 30 minutes. (Baguette may be made up to this point 4 hours ahead and chilled.)

Make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes on loaf with a sharp knife and lightly brush top with cool water. Bake loaf in middle of oven 30 minutes, or until golden, and transfer to a rack to cool.

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit

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