You are viewing zoethe

The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness - BBA #13: French bread [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

BBA #13: French bread [Jan. 27th, 2014|12:09 pm]
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
[Tags|]

I have to admit that I spent far too much time stuck in the face of French bread. I'd read that it was really hard, and it never seemed to be the right time to make it. But I finally got to it last week.

Once again, this is a bread that needs to be started the night before. the pane fermente must be put together, given a good kneading, and then refrigerated overnight. The effect of this overnight refrigeration is to let the yeast beasties eat up the sugars surrounding them and then offgas alcohols and other byproducts, and then for those to just sit there in the quiet of your cold bread and stew a bit.
Yes, the rich taste of good breads is pretty much reliant on yeast farts.

ANYway, in the morning, about an hour before your ready to begin throwing the bread around, you must remove the pane fermente from the fridge, chop it into about 10 pieces, then cover it and leave it to warm up a bit:

French bread 1

After an hour, measure out the rest of the ingredients, plop in the fermented dough, and begin kneading. This is a 10 minute process if done by hand, and I love the way the dough transforms under my hands from a sloppy, ragged mess to something smooth and elastic.

Into an oiled bowl to rise for two hours. If it rises too high in that time, degass it done to a small ball and continue the rising time. Then turn it out on a well-floured counter:

French bread 2

Divide it into two or three even segments. I chose two, because my French bread pan has two segments.

French bread 3

Shape the clumps into loaves.

French bread 4a

There are fussy instructions about stretching and curving around and pinching to stretch the outer skin of the bread. I did that with one, didn't with the other, and couldn't tell them apart.

Move them onto your loaf pan or do the whole couche method of heavily floured cloth pinched up between the loaves to separate them. I chose the pan because then I don't have to be touching them again and risk deflation.

French bread 5

Cover and let rise again.

French bread 6

And when they are all nice and puffy give them a slash to help with oven spring, then into the 500 degree oven with a cup of water poured into a pan before them to create steam.

French bread 7

There are no pictures of me pouring boiling water into a 500 degree jelly roll pan. Because good grief. Most of the steam escaped by the time I was able to close the oven. I think the next time I might try to figure out some kind of Mythbusters trick wherein I use a metal cup and a string, and pull the cup over just as I'm closing the oven. I would be able to rescue it in a very short time, because 30 seconds after the initial steaming, you need to crack the oven door and mist the inside of the oven. You do this three times.

After that, the baking time is about 25 minutes. And they do spring nicely in the oven.

French bread 9

I have conjoined bread.

They weren't hard to separate, and when they cooled and we cut them, this is what we got:

French bread 10

The crumb was a little denser than I would have liked, and I think that next time I will give them an extra 10 minutes in the final rise. But the flavor was delicious. The crust was thin and crisp, and the crumb creamy. Dipped in olive oil, it was out of this world. Definitely a keeper.
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: lea724
2014-01-27 05:12 pm (UTC)

(Link)

Oh man, that looks fantastic. :)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2014-01-31 04:15 am (UTC)

(Link)

Thank you!
[User Picture]From: sacramentalist
2014-01-27 05:25 pm (UTC)

(Link)

"ah. Gerard Depardieu. Baguette. Uh-huh-huh!"



From: anonymousalex
2014-01-28 02:40 am (UTC)

(Link)

BOEUF!

-Alex
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2014-01-31 04:14 am (UTC)

(Link)

Love the Choncords! Saw them in concert last summer.
[User Picture]From: jmfunnyface
2014-01-27 07:04 pm (UTC)

(Link)

That looks so good.
[User Picture]From: wilhelmina_d
2014-01-27 09:02 pm (UTC)

(Link)

Wonderful! I've just been learning how to use our new bread machine. I've had about a 50/50 success rate. Part of it is that I keep forgetting to put in the paddle! Oops. But when it turns out good, it turns out REALLY good. I'm loving fresh bread. Eventually, when I get reliable results, I want to learn to make it by hand.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2014-01-31 04:11 am (UTC)

(Link)

I love the process of kneading bread. It's like meditation for my busy mind.
[User Picture]From: wilhelmina_d
2014-01-31 04:23 pm (UTC)

(Link)

I enjoy kneading, too, but it's frustrating putting all that work in and getting an inedible lump out of it. I'm getting the hang of the breadmaker, though - two good loaves in a row - and I want to try handmade soon.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2014-02-04 07:38 pm (UTC)

(Link)

If you aren't using King Arthur Flour, switch. It's a little more expensive, but worth it.
From: anonymousalex
2014-01-28 02:39 am (UTC)

(Link)

Right before I read "the crumb was a little denser than I would have liked," I was thinking what a lovely crumb you got. So there.

-Alex
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2014-01-31 04:10 am (UTC)

(Link)

I'm a little hypercritical....
[User Picture]From: delosd
2014-01-28 02:40 am (UTC)

(Link)

Such a nicely formed loaf you have, my dear... :)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2014-01-31 04:08 am (UTC)

(Link)

:-)
[User Picture]From: leeann_marie
2014-01-28 02:33 pm (UTC)

(Link)

Looks beautiful! I've been tossing ice cubes rather than water in for steam -- works very nicely and is much less scary. :)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2014-01-31 04:09 am (UTC)

(Link)

I will definitely try that!