The week that I stuffed my face with homemade bread…

Meatball Sandwich on Homemade Bread

Meatball Sandwich on Homemade Bread

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.

Making French Bread

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.

Making French Bread

Ready to get baked!

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.

Homemade bread with marmalade

Homemade bread with marmalade

Homemade bread with marmalade

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.

Meatball Sandwich on Homemade French Bread

Yum!

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?

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22 thoughts on “The week that I stuffed my face with homemade bread…

  1. You must have inherited your fear of yeast and kneading from me. I had to laugh when I read about how you feel about them — that’s exactly how I feel!

    • Good I know who to blame! No wonder we both liked that bread machine. Well, next time we’re in Tacoma I’ll make a batch of these for us to eat. They were so easy and they would make yummy garlic bread to go with some pasta.

  2. Yay on the French bread! And you have made me so happy with this line: “not to be overly scared of bread. You can mess up and still have it taste great.” 😀 Haven’t taught a bread class in a long while, but I always told students that they should “be the boss of their bread.” You decide how the rising, kneading, etc schedule works. Thrilled you enjoyed it and went through it so quickly.

    You know my kitchen “challenge” is marshmallows this year. Next up are sherry and sweet red wine (two separate flavors). Funny how you helped start this one!

    Looking forward to whatever you come up with next. And thanks again for writing food for fun up.

    • Man, I was totally kicking myself when I remembered I didn’t slash the loaves. *sigh* But then I just ate another slice of bread covered in butter and felt better. And if you see the comment above yours, you’ll see my mom also has a fear of bread making. Must be genetic! But I’ll see if I can get her past it too. =) That recipe is a keeper for sure, especially for us newbies.

      I love your marshmallow creations! Happy to have had a hand in the inspiration. Both of those flavor combos sound intriguing — can’t wait to hear how they turn out!

  3. Obviously no need for you to be afraid—looks great! I go back and forth on the homemade bread issue. On the one hand, it is really good and can be fun. On the other hand, it’s hard to replicate the crust that professionals with really good (especially wood-fired) ovens can get. Have you tried the Lahey no-knead method? The Le Creuset pot never totally recovers, but it really is brilliant.

    • Yeah, nothing beats the wood fire oven crust! And with so many great bakeries here in Portland, it’s easy to buy a really fabulous baguette and be 100% pleased. But it’s always fun to make it yourself when you’re too lazy to drive anywhere (a constant problem I face). I haven’t tried the no-knead bread but I have a friend who swears by it. Guess it’s my next baking challenge!

  4. I get a little nervous when it comes to bread making as well but a few weeks ago I tried my hand at homemade pizza dough and it came out wonderful! Now I feel confident enough to tackle other bread recipes! Thanks for sharing!

    • Yum! I used to make pizza dough fairly often when I worked in a kitchen at an Italian restaurant, about 6 years ago. But I haven’t made it since — and now it sounds a little intimidating to me. I guess it’s time to give it another try! Thanks for the inspiration! =)

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