11 October 2010

French Bread, Batch #2, Loaf #1

This used the same Reinhart recipe as the previous loaf, but had a few improvements:
  • I used a whole recipe instead of halfing it without a kitchen scale. I think the last loaf didn't get quite enough yeast, but this one raised very well.
  • Shaped it into a round instead of batards. Don't know if the shaping process helped it at all, but it seemed to get patted down less in the process.
  • I got an oven-safe pan for creating a flash of steam at the start of baking (as recommended in the book). I have no clue if this added anything to the process.
A few notes about the technique used: if I had know baking good bread was this easy, I would have done it ages ago. For instance, this loaf took roughly 20 minutes at night to mix the ingredients and knead the dough (all by hand or by spoon). You then let the dough sit in the fridge overnight (or up to a few days) to give it a bunch of flavor without letting it rise. You then shape it the next day and let it rise for 1.5 hours which gives the oven plenty of time to heat up. Baking time after that is around 25-35 minutes. If you have a flexible schedule or don't mind waking up early, you can easily prep dough before you go to bed and cook it in the morning to bring in to work.

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