A bit of a confession: I can be strangely intimidated by certain culinary projects. Sure, I’ve made pasta by flicking water on semolina flour and I make my own dim sum, but other fairly simple things can make me stop in my tracks — like making bread from scratch.
In fact, it’s been since culinary school (back in 2001) since I’ve made bread on my own — with the exception of last year’s surprisingly successful English muffins. In general though I leave bread making to the professionals, which means I buy a lot of bread.
And while regularly baking bread is one of those things I’ve always wanted to do, I tend to chicken out when things like yeast, knead and rise come up in recipes. It just seems like too much potential for failure.
But with my combined resolutions to try new things and to attempt recipes suggested by WordPress friends, I decided it was finally time to get off the pot. I started with a recipe for French bread, posted by my friend Liz of Food For Fun.
Happily the recipe is straightforward and easy to follow, even for someone nervous about baking bread. It does take some forethought though since the dough needs to be started the day before.
After it’s spent the evening in the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature.
Separate the dough into three pieces and roll into baguettes and then let those rise for about 20 minutes or until doubled in size. Slash each baguette seven times, spritz it lightly with water/vinegar and bake until lightly golden.
Because I am a total flake, I took the above photo and then popped the tray in the oven…minus the seven slashes. I didn’t realize my mistake until the next day when I remembered that I missed a step. Since my error didn’t affect the flavor of the end result, I decided to take it as a sign not to be overly scared of bread. You can mess up and still have it taste great.
Which it did!
Once the bread has cooled (enough not to burn your hands anyways), slice or serve however you like.
I immediately began to chow down on warm bread slathered in butter and topped with marmalade. I think I made it through half a loaf before I managed to stop myself. And the whole time I was doing a little happy dance inside because the bread was so delicious and I was so excited that it turned out exactly as expected.
Later that day I used another loaf to make a couple of meatball sandwiches for my husband and I to have for lunch. The meatballs are my baked turkey & ricotta meatballs and let me just say that this lunch rocked.
I should also admit that the title of this post contains a bit of a lie — the three loaves were gone in four days. Guess it’s time to make another batch or even (gasp!) try a new bread recipe out. Wish me luck!
Are there are culinary challenges you’ve conquered lately?