Sunday, January 1, 2012

Baking Bread on New Year's Day!

New Year's Day is far from being over, but it has been a lot of fun so far. I started enameling early in the morning and also started preparing myself mentally to make bread. There was a recipe on The Driven Cook blog a few days ago that sounded sooo easy. You can find the website and the actual post under "Sites I Like". This is a French bread recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking and makes two baguettes.

4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water (105-115 deg. F.)

I added the flour, salt and yeast to my KitchenAid mixing bowl. Stir them together. Then make a well in the mixture and slowly add the warm water. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed for 12 minutes. And be sure to have the mixer in the locked position! Remove the dough and oil the bowl. Add the dough and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. Cover with a clean towel.

Here's the dough before rising:

After rising!

Punch the dough down and bring the edges of the dough to the center. Cut in half and form two baguettes. Roll the dough away from you on a very lightly floured surface until long and thin. Place on an oiled pan and let rise for an hour, covered with a towel, until almost doubled in size.

After the second rising, I slit the dough with a razor blade.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg. F. Place a baking pan on the bottom of the oven with 1 cup of water -- the water creates steam and results in a chewy crust. Boy, is that right! All these years and I never knew that simple trick!

Bake the bread on the center rack 400 deg. F. for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 deg. F. and bake another 30 minutes. Turn oven off and crack the oven door for another 5 minutes.

Then the blog said, "Wait until bread has cooled before slicing."  Yeah, sure! I ate those little slices quickly with a nice glass of riesling. Sooo good.

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