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Bread making update - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
John

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Bread making update [Sep. 29th, 2011|12:43 pm]
John
I wanted to make french-like bread. It was my last day off of a string of 5. And, it would use up the last of my bread flour.

I should have bought a 5 pound sack of bread flour - it keeps well - and then I would only have been using up "the bag of bread flour". But, see, I've been looking for a good time to stop making bread for a while, because I'm eating too much bread, and I'm a lot healthier on a low carb diet.

(I'm not dissing bread here - but sometimes I like a nightcap. And when I'm a bit tipsy, a little snack seems like just the thing. And when I'm a little tipsy, it's also easy to decide that a *third* slice of toast with butter would be ever-so-nice, when one would have been more than sufficient. Dumping that much starch into my body is just not good for me. It's better for me not to have bread in the house, except maybe a loaf in the freezer for sandwiches.)

So, I made up two batches of poolish - pre-ferment. One with sourdough, one with baker's yeast.

The sourdough attempt was very wet. It ended up being put in a loaf pan, because it would otherwise have been a blob... and a slowly rising blob at that!

I let them rise for more than 4 hours - and they were just barely showing any growth.

I gave them a bit of a knead, and let them rise another 3 hours - they were rising, *some*, but not much.

I finally put them in the oven with a tea light. *Now* they rose; apparently, fall weather is enough to render my kitchen into a slow-rising area. By 9:30 (I'd started over 14 hours ago!), they'd had one full rising, and maybe 20% of another (the first rise that I'd ended early)

French bread is surprisingly wet for a free form loaf, but then, they're not intended to be free form - you're supposed to use a cloth (and maybe some braces - rolling pins/wine bottles/etc.) to help them form their shape. I tried to fake it with parchment paper and wine bottles, but the dough was just a bit too sticky for that. So, I let it spread, but it also did rise, enough that I had some good hopes.

The sourdough was rising too, but not enough. It didn't quite pour into the pan, but I didn't have to shape it... I just put it in the pan, and it filled all four corners.

I pre-heated the oven with a broiler pain in it. When the oven had pre-heated, I slipped the french bread in - it wasn't a baguette, more of a baton - on a sheet of parchment paper (I'm nowhere near good enough to use a peel without parchment paper!), and poured some boiling water into the broiler pan. I repeated the boiling water every 10 minutes or so for the first half hour.

The sourdough just got brushed with cold water, but I started it while the french was baking, so it got a bit of steam treatment.

It was after midnight when I was done. I went to bed.

This morning - well. I don't know what good french bread is like. I've never had an expert baker say "okay, this.. this is good french bread. See how the crust is? Feel how the texture is like this? breathe in through your mouth - do you taste/smell something? That's (blah), which is good."

But it was good textured, flavorful, had a good, chewy crust, and toasted up marvelously. I think I should freeze it when I get home, to preserve the texture as much as I can for Saturday (when I have guests coming).

So, big, scary experiment (it's amazing how much one's inner five-year-old who's terrified of failure can come to the fore in these circumstance), and it worked out okay.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sfw_dc
2011-09-30 01:31 am (UTC)
The boy here has been trying to make a good baguette since the first time we went to Paris.

Thus far, the Julia Child recipe from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" comes closest,and it is good, but is not Paris.
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2011-09-30 03:17 pm (UTC)
You know how I feel about your bread, darlin'. I'm happy there may be some when Kathy and I get in on Saturday!
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2011-09-30 04:52 pm (UTC)
Some... heh.

I have the loaf of white bread I made last (Saturday? Sunday?) when I wanted to see if I could start bread at 6 and have it done by bedtime. I have some "white whole wheat" bread I'm working through. That second sourdough loaf is still good. And, of course, there's the french-like bread in the freezer. Yeah, there'll be bread.

(There's also some pinot gris, eggs, bacon - should I get the US or UK style out of the freezer for you? - cheese, and I'll roast coffee tonight.)

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[User Picture]From: kightp
2011-09-30 06:47 pm (UTC)
US style bacon, please! You take such good care of me. (-:

If we can't feed ourselves on that (and I suspect we can), then I know the walking route to that brewpub.
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