Well, maybe it didn't turn out so bad after all. Although the crust is very hard and it didn't rise as much as I had hoped. It sure is a nice color and it actually smells like real bread.first loaf - top view
the first to shake your hand! (Handing out cigars?) It looks like real bread, all right. I stopped in at the other thread and do agree that your dough looked a little dry, but you've got some decent rise in the end and I bet it's delicious.
All in all not a bad loaf if I do say so. And it even tastes pretty good. I'm now certainly inspired to go on to bigger and better things.
I agree that it was a bit on the dry side and will add more water next time until it is just tacky without being sticky. I can always add in a little flour right?
Very forgiving this hobby (and rewarding!)
My wife is just about to arrive so I will go now.
Some of us have been "practicing" for years.
Glad you got some rise out it!
Susan from San Diego
Wow, your first loaf! Hope your wife loves it!
Katie in SC
Are you getting a thick, dry, dense sort of crust that isn't pleasant to eat? Even a beautiful crackly baguette shouldn't fight back against the knife too much. What are your bake times and temps? Is your dough still on the dry side? How does the bread bake up otherwise?
If you're making artisan bread a 'crusty' crust is usually sought after, but assuming your dough and process are correct, you can soften the crust in a variety of ways, one being Raffi's suggestion. Oil, milk, a little sweetener in the dough help tenderize but if that doesn't appeal to you you can also brush the loaf with a little milk or oil right before it goes in the oven.
'Steaming' is the process of getting as much steam into your oven (almost as many ways to do it as there are bakers) as you can, immediately after loading the bread, sometimes once sometimes twice. Not bad, it's a matter of preference; considered essential by many, it encourages optimum ovenspring and contributes to a dark, crackly crust. It's one of those things on which opinions and approaches vary; in my experience is not essential to a lovely appealing loaf of bread. It's worth trying just to see its effect on your baking.
By baking loaves under a large stainless steel bowl I've gotten some terrific dark, crisp but very thin crusts, which is what I like.
Raffi, have you tried baking 'under cover'? I've just started experimenting with this, and so far I'm liking it a lot. The crust gets that gorgeous rich brown, is thin and crisp, no steam to muck about with, and for preheat all I do is turn the oven on before I turn out and slash the loaves- as long as I hear the gas burning, that's close enough for me. I use a big stainless mixing bowl and rinse it with a little hot water before setting it over the loaf, which is itself sitting on a 12" round pizza sheet. You really find a quick misting gives you just as good ovenspring? I am so ready to ditch steaming, I've actually warped the floor of my cheap little oven because of it. But ovenspring is such a carrot.