Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bread. The Elixir of My Life.

One day I'm going to write a book called "How Baking and Cooking Saved My Life...and Other Random Thoughts." 
It's a working title.
It will be filled with recipes and...stories. And humor. Because that's an essential good writing (that was so corny BUT you loved it didn't you?!?)

So if you didn't catch my recent post or this post, you've missed out of my indescribable desire to go to Europe. Legit. I can't even describe it except to tell you that when I go, I probably will not come back. So, to satiate my on-going and exponentially-growing desire, I had to do something and, well, baking and now cooking, and yoga are my calming techniques. I found a fabulous, easy (no really, it's so easy it's ridiculous) recipe to make French bread and by joe, I love bread so I was determined to make it. 
And make it I DID.
Recipe below. 

I learned how to properly form my dough into a boule (the youtube video is faaaabulous)

In they went...and I was nervous. 

Out they came...and I was really nervous. 

Sliced it. 
Crispy outside and melt-in-your-mouth inside. HOLY CAT SCANS. 
I DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I MADE IT! I DID IT! I MADE (whole wheat) FRENCH BREAD!!!!!

And you had better believe I ate it.
 I indulged in every. last. bite.  
And I managed not to eat the entire loaf. Quite a feat. 
Dang it's good. 

Recipe (adopted from CookingForSeven):
  • 3.5 cups of lukewarm water
  • 1.5 Tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1.5 Tablespoons coarse salt (I used coarse kosher the kind you sprinkle of pretzels...oooh yum!)
  • 6.5 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
1. Place the water, yeast, and salt in a big mixing bowl and then dump the flour in. Mix with a wooden spoon until all mixed together and moist.
2. Cover loosely and let it sit until it has risen and deflated a little (I waited a painful 20 minutes). Now bake it or store in in the fridge until you are ready to use.
3. If you chose the baking route read on (this is like those books where you had to choose which page to turn to and it kept going on and on and you could have alternate endings, you know? I hated those books)....
The recipe said to wet your hands to prevent your hands from sticking but I floured my hands and that worked fine so it's up to you (more choices, gosh I'm cruel). I split the dough to make 2 loaves (obviously...since you looked at the pictures). Form the dough into a boule (which is a ball--and if you have no idea how to do it, click here. It's easy, I promise, and fun!).
4. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper (YES) or cornmeal-dusted cutting board (or cornmeal-dusted parchment paper...that's what I did). Let the dough rest for (yet another painful) 40 minutes.
5. About 20 minutes before you're ready to pop the bread in the oven, put a cast iron skillet or pizza stone on the center rack of the oven and place a roasting pan (or a 13x9-inch pan <---I used) on the bottom rack. Preheat oven to 450 degree Fahrenheit.
6. Dust some flour over the top of your risen bread and cut a few slashes into the top about 1/4 inch deep (this was my favorite part; I felt so legit). Transfer the dough onto the skillet or pizza stone, *quickly pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the roasting pan and shut the oven door QUICKLY to keep the steam inside. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is nice and brown. 
7. Cool completely before cutting (uh...yeah...ok. I did not do that). 
8. Indulge guiltlessly pretending you're in France eating a legit baguette because you're half way there! 
*NOTE: If you forget to add the hot water for steam, you'll be ok. Do not panic. 

I ate my bread with Havarti cheese (sliced...lame! I need a chunk to be really legit!) and frozen grapes. Frozen grapes are my new favorite snack right now. Try it. Or frozen blueberries. SO. GOOD. 

1 comment:

Erica Lea said...

So pleased you liked it! It's my fave bread recipe ever. :) Yes, Europe definitely calls my name off and's a big, ridiculous dream (for me). :D