Practice makes perfect
This is from yesterday's baking session using the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes recipes -- an epi and 2 small loaves of olive bread using some totally delicious kalamata olives I had to scour the city to find. What's wrong with these grocers? The dough for the olive bread was 11 days old. Great oven spring!
First, the olive bread. I made a loaf on Tuesday following the directions in the book (roll out the dough, cover with olives, roll up like a jelly roll, then form into a ball). Well, the forming into a ball part did a job on the olives, and when the bread was baked, there were olives on the top and on one side and that was it. The rest of the loaf, probably 90 to 95% of it, was just bread. In making it the second time, I stopped after rolling it up like a jelly roll, and just tucked the ends under and baked it on parchment paper. Big difference. The olives went all the way through it and it was delicious and beautiful.
This was my second attempt at an epi. The first one had a very hard crust and had to be cut apart. On this one, I brushed olive oil liberally on the loaf just prior to cutting and baking, and the crust came out thin and crispy, but not so "crusty", if that makes sense. In other words, when you bite into it, the crust doesn't go everywhere. The pieces pulled apart beautifully. I'm actually looking for an even softer crust for that "pull-apart-roll" feel. While my friends are enjoying the crispy crusts, they still want what they want, and I can see their logic, especially in this bread.
I have to be careful now that I have the large pastry board. It's larger than my oven stone. I almost overshot the stone when making the epi. It hung over the stone about 1/2 an inch on each end, but the parchment paper held it up ok.
Picked up a yard of cotton canvas at the store the other day. A friend with a sewing machine cut it into two nice couche-sized pieces and hemmed them up on the edges. Today I'll run them through the washer and dryer, then flour them and see how much fun they are to use. Total cost for 2 couches, $4.74 plus tax. Nice. Methinks my friend with a sewing machine could use a beautiful loaf of bread for her efforts.