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!" :-)
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.