Wednesday, July 7, 2010

French Bread, Sorta Like Mom Made...

This has been an exceptionally rainy two weeks around here.  My Darling Bride loves this, since she is out of town and knows that someone only has to water the plants that are in the rain shadow of the house.   Who could forget that easy task?

For July, one of the Mellow Bakers  breads was 'good old French Bread'.  The essence of simple home made white bread.  Crusty outside, doughy inside, with few ingredients.  Someone's favorite.

Possibly the best right-out-of-the-oven bread there is; just add butter.  Maybe a little bit of Demeter's currant jelly.  Man!  Would you say someone is an 'addict'?

But it is not very good for anyone overweight or diabetic, as it tends to end up right around your middle.  Plus, it tends to make someone's blood sugars skyrocket.  Since someone has no discipline when it comes to eating, this would be only a half-batch.

But French Bread is quick and easy, and it fit into a holiday schedule.  The version in Hamelman's book "Bread" was the quickest of the Mellow Baker's choices for the month, and with the warm, humid weather, it was pretty certain that this dough would rise even more quickly than claimed in the book. 

The flour and water were mixed, left to sit for a few minutes, and then the salt and yeast were added.  The well-hydrated dough was supposed to go through three 'stretch and folds' at precisely 50 minutes apart.  

Well, it didn't...

It got two folds, and it got them when time allowed.  This did not seem to discourage the dough at all, as like many yeast recipes in warm weather, it rose wildly.

This is one of those doughs that just feels good in your hands.  It is incredibly soft and pliable, and although this recipe was a little wetter than my old stand-by, it was easy and fun to work with.

After the second fold, it was shaped into the kind of loaf that my Darling Bride likes; similar sized slices throughout the loaf.  Instead of Kosher salt, the dough was sprayed with water and then some sesame was added for a little more flavor.

And into the oven it went, where it was promptly forgotten.  Forgot the egg timers, the microwave timer; someone did not even look at the clock.

But soon the wonderful aroma came wafting down the stairs, and this is how it came out:

                                (click on the pic to enlarge)
After a quick glance out the window, a neighbor with his garage door open was selected as the day's bread recipient.  Just as quickly as possible, the loaf was wrapped in parchment paper and trotted over to the neighbor's house.  

Let the twins have at it!  Those boys are still young, quite slender, and so full of energy that it will not cause them any harm.  With luck, they will eat it all before their Dad gets a chance.  In any event, it was out of my view, and no longer my problem.

Get thee behind me, French Bread!

(And I do not mean on my backside.)

But the house sure smells good!

Now someone is hungry for bread, and looking forward to the heavy rye breads.  Someone better go water those flowers!


  1. Wow, you have impressive will-power!! And beautiful bread - did you just make one large baguette w/ the half-recipe?

  2. Your neighbors are very lucky you bake bread and not grow zucchini.:)

    I'll follow your lead and add sesame seeds when I get around to making these.

  3. I got the sesame seeds out as if impelled by some unknown force....and then I forgot to put them on at the last minute..... oh well.... did you find this dough easy to slash, I thought it was a @$%£@!*

    But at least there will be toasted bags for brekkie tomorrow.... What will you have now you've given yours away? I love the background image and the post and the bread too - is this where you live?

  4. Abby - yes, just one big loaf.

    Oggi - now I have to wipe down the computer screen. Very funny!

    Joanna - I never seem to have too much trouble slashing, mostly because I am typically ambivalent about it. I just grab a serrated bread knife and hack away.

    I am living on a couple of 'mistake' loaves.

    As far as the background, it is just one of google blogger's optional backgrounds.

    Thank you all!