This morning was the first morning that it was cold enough here that the furnace kicked on. Unfortunately, we discovered that the ignitor has failed, so we got a fan running but no heat. So I've done what any good home baker would do: put together enough batches of bread to keep the oven on all day. It has kept the house warm and smelling wonderful.
I made a simple French Bread yesterday. I didn't use a pre-ferment or anything: I actually wanted to experiment with long knead times and see just how much of a difference in taste and volume it made. Something just didn't see right with my dough. It felt tight and, although moist, kind of puckered up.
After I tasted it it was obvious what was wrong: I added much too much salt. Almost double. The crumb still wasn't too bad:
I saved about 8 ounces of the dough in the fridge to throw into today's batch. I wanted to try the old dough method. Indeed, I did end up with a much tastier loaf today (I reduced the salt in today's batch accordingly).
I baked a couple loaves of French Bread and a Whole Wheat Loaf today:
The French Bread turned out very good. I used a poolish and autolyse, then when I went out for a hike this morning I popped the dough in the fridge so it had an extra slow, long rise. It always seems to help.
I've started reading the copy of Good Bread is Back I got a month or so ago. I'm finding it more interesting that I expected to. I was afraid it was going to be too scholarly and dry, but, although the author is an academic, he clearly has a passion for bread that shines through in his writing. I still have quite a way to go, but so far I am enjoying it.
It was quite good. The crust was a bit soft because I didn't use hot enough water to create steam, but overall quite good.
I finally had a chance to update the site some today. You may notice that both of the featured blocks on the front page are heavily focused on community participation. It has been great how much activity there has been on the site the past few months while I've been slammed at work and travelling. I always hoped the site would develop into a community rather than a soapbox. I'm very pleased to see that it has.