Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Diaries of a Desperate Novice Bread Baker, part 2

"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread." - Genesis 3:19

Now I know why being pregnant is referred to as "having a bun in the oven."

Baking bread is (I imagine) very similar to having a child - time, preparation, patience and sacrifice are required. When I pulled my first-ever bread loaf out of the oven and realized it had come through successfully, I was about as happy and proud as a new mom :-)

The bread I made is a Universal Rustic Bread from this simply marvelous book.

The day before baking, I mixed a "Biga" pre-ferment dough to mix in with the regular dough for the loaf:

this is the Biga, after it had risen.

The day of baking, I got up at 8am to start getting the dough ready.

Bread dough, pre-rise

I covered it in a bowl and let it sit to rise for 4 hours.

bread dough, post-rise

Once it had risen, it was rolled in flour, shaped, and left to rise for another hour.

shaping the dough

While it was rising, I prepared my bread peel to receive the loaf. Once it had risen, I laid the loaf on the peel and placed the whole thing in a large plastic bag for a couple of hours to (you guessed it) rise some more.

bread dough, third rise

While it was on the final rise, I prepared the oven for baking - baking stone on top rack, jelly-roll pan on the rack immediately below it to hold water for steaming, close the door and preheat the oven. Finally, I slipped the dough onto the hot baking stone, poured water into the hot jelly-roll pan, and spritzed water into the oven and onto the loaf before closing the oven to bake - at around 5:30pm.

dough going into the oven

dough in the oven, being spritzed with water

Finally, it was time to take it out of the oven.

bread coming out of the oven

As my mom called to my dad when the bread was done, "you've got to see this - she's making bread like they do at Panera!" :-)

Bread cooling

Like I said, you feel like a new mother when it comes out right.

Inside of the bread

I plan to make three loaves total out of this batch. As I experiment with new breads, I will record the results here.

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