Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Forays into French Bread
Last week I went into school on my day off to learn about baking French bread. I have made bread before, but have always shied away from baguettes, epis and batards. Having read many recipes, blogs and threads written by "breadheads," I was convinced that any attempt I made at making French bread in my humble home kitchen would result in an inedible disaster. Well, let me tell you now, if you have been as discouraged by the overwrought discussions as I have, let it stop you no longer. Good French bread can be done at home - I have been wasting all this time worrying for nothing! While these loaves were made in the school ovens, they are just bigger versions of our home ovens. Out of the three ovens we used, only one had an automatic steam capability. Steam is important in the first 10-20 minutes of baking time in order for a proper crust to form. For the rest of the ovens we placed a pot of boiling water inside and misted the walls with a spray bottle before we closed the door (although I think ice cubes and warm water would be more effective at making steam...) As you can see, the bread turned out beautifully. While it won't have the exact same crust as that of a French bakery, it's plenty crunchy and much better than anything you can get in the store (unless you live next to a really great bakery). Plus, it freezes well. So fear not, bread lovers, and bake away!