Peter Reinhart's French Bread Recipe
I just purchased Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. The first recipe I tried was his French bread recipe and it was a disaster. I used all of his tips for hearth baking, read every page of the introductory chapter, and followed the recipe to the letter. The loaves came out so hard and dense, I could have injured someone with them, if I'd chosen to use them as bats!
I simply cannot figure out what went wrong. With my gut feeling, I felt that when things began to look wrong was at the mixing of the pate fermente with the other ingredients to make the final dough. It was very dry and I had to add a good amount of extra water to get a soft, tacky dough that he asked for. And then, come rise time, it didn't quite rise as quickly or as much as I'd expected it to. I left it a tad longer than the recipe said to, but then shaped it. Once again, the loaves did not rise to what I expected to be their full potential. So sad that I had to throw away the loaves as they were inedible!