Thursday, February 28, 2008
The weather up at Berkeley has been temperamental. It's been a week of sun, a week of rain, a week of sun, cycle repeats. This weekend, unfortunately, was rain. I prefer working with yeast when it's warm outside, but since time is running out for this month's challenge, I made the bread to the sound of falling rain.
The process wasn't hard and since I like making bread, I had an enjoyable time. I have to admit though, I've never made anything so time intensive. I started at 9:30 in the morning, finished the first rise around 1:30pm, the second by 3:30, shaped the loaves and let them rise until 5:30, and finished baking them off at 6:45. I went out to dinner (since I couldn't eat the darn thing yet), and sampled the bread at around midnight.
The looks of them weren't beautiful, which is why I only have one shot of the somewhat decent-looking boule. I've never free-formed bread before; it's a lot harder than it looks. The taste though, that mattered more.
I whipped out the bread knife, pulled it through the golden crispy crust, smelled the delicious yeastiness perfuming the air, and took a look at the fruits of my labor. Webs of white, lots of holes, just like the bread I buy from Acme Breads. I popped a slice into the toaster oven, waiting impatiently as the slice turned golden. Mmmm...crispy crust, warm chewy crumb, slightly salty....it was wonderful. And I sliced some more...and some more...It's amazing how yeast, water, flour, and salt - four simple ingredients - can produce such a tasty morsel.
Julia Child's French Bread
It's a long recipe, so I linked it...
Flour, yeast, salt, and water all mixed and kneaded, waiting for the first rise
After the first rise
I let the dough rise in an warm oven (turn it on to 150 degree, turn it off, and maintain the temperature at around 70 degrees) because it was so cold that day. The dough rose beautifully the first two times. It didn't rise as much after I shaped the dough though (not three times the size, as the recipe said). I also had problems transferring the dough from the rising sheet and my baking sheet (I'll probably just use the same one next time). That was why my batard looked so ugly (tasty as it was, it was sadly deformed). The boule and rolls looked better, though I had issues slashing the top (my knife wasn't sharp enough).
All in all, my first challenge was successful. I had a lot of fun and the recipe turned out really well. I can't wait for next month :)