The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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kdwnnc

Today I finally got Bread by Jeffery Hamelman from the library!  I have only read a few pages, but I can already tell that it is going to be a fantastic book.  I already own two bread books, one of them being The Bread Bible by RLB, but I can't wait to bake from this one (isn't it cruel that the library deadline for returning is two weeks?).  But I suppose I could always renew it.  The big chalenge is going to be deciding what to bake from it first!  I want to make something unlike anything I have ever made before (such as focaccia, which I make a lot of), but please, please, please give me suggestions!  Is the cibatta recipe good?  I have only tried making ciabatta once, and it definately could have come out better.  I have never made baguettes either; should I try a recipe for them from this book? 


Now I am anxious for when I get a scale in a few weeks!


 

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kdwnnc

I made French bread for the first time today, and it turned out great.  At least I think it turned out great; I have never had good French bread from a bakery.  The crumb was somewhat tighter than I would like, but the flavor was awesome.  The recipe calls for a total of 4-6 hours of rising at 70 degrees, but it was much, much warmer than that in the house this morning, and we were eating the bread for lunch by the time it should have been finishing its second rise.  The crust stayed nice and crisp, which was also a bonus.  The dough was rather moist and slack, so the loaves spread out a lot during the final rise, even though I tried the bunched-up kitchen towel trick.  It was a bit difficult kneading the moist dough; I have been doing more and more of my mixing by hand lately.


So my question is, what makes French bread French?  It has the same ingredients as Ciabatta, which is Italian and has a totally different flavor and texture.  Is it called French bread simply because it is made in France, or is there another reason?

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kdwnnc

So there was a really big batch of chili made last night, so there was cornbread last night, and there will be cornbread tonight.  And, frankly, I don't get tired of it!  I know that there have been several cornbread recipes posted here, but I just have to share this, which is my favorite.  It comes out the oven so nice and tall, is perfectly delicious, and is extremely simple.


1 cup all-purpose flour


1 cup yellow cornmeal


1/4 cup sugar


4 teaspoons baking powder


3/4 teaspoon salt


1 cup milk


1/4 cup canola oil


2 eggs


 


Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add milk, oil, and egg.  Stir just until combined (do not overbeat).  Turn into a greased 9x9x2 inch baking pan.  Bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes.  Serves 8. 

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kdwnnc

Several days ago I made the Savory Bread from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads.  It is practically just a white loaf of bread (similar to a less-rich brioche) that before the final rise is rolled into a rectangle, spread with a seasoned butter, and rolled back up and placed in a loaf pan.  The butter ingredients include thyme, garlic, hot sauce, pepper, etc., so can imagine how good that would taste in a bread (now that I think about it, I could have added some red pepper flakes that I had sitting in the spice cabinet).  Anyway, it tasted very, very good.  The only downside to it was that because of the butter, the layers separated during rising, so the bread had a rather large layer of air inside, but the taste was enough to make up for it.


Then, yesterday, I made the Southern White Bread from the same book.  The only thing I did differently from the recipe was substituting some WW flour for some of the white.  We did not cut into it until today, but it was already rather dry for a bread that had butter and milk powder in it, and I thought it tasted too much like WW bread from the store, which I do not like.  So far, aside from the oatmeal muffins (which by the way are very good), these are the only breads I have tried from this book.  So hopefully I will have better luck next time!

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kdwnnc

Today's bake: Rustic Bread from this site.  I haven't cut into it yet, but I have a feeling that it will have a nice, open texture.  I didn't add any flour than what was in the recipe, so the result was a rather sticky dough that had so many bubbles while shaping that it got rather difficult.  The dough was so lose that after shaping into a boule with as tight a skin as I could make, I had a rather flat pancake at the end of the final rise.  But it had the best oven spring I have ever seen in a bread!  I am very eager to see how it tastes; it looks beautiful.  

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