I love bread. I love bread so much and so unconditionally that if bread cheated on me I would only blame myself. I’d go on a diet and buy sexy underwear and pretend I like all its favorite things so it wouldn’t leave me.
I don’t know if it’s because we’re having an early spring in Portland that I’m trying to squeeze all the comforty bread out of winter, but I’ve been a little factory lately. Mostly it’s just been a matter of throwing ingredients into the machine and lettin’ it fly, but this weekend I made a couple of breads by hand, the old-timey way, kneading and watching the clock, kneading and shaping, spraying with water and watching the oven.
I found this step-by-step from King Arthur Flour for baguette and ciabatta starters. The starters need to sit for 12-15 hours, then the actual prep/work time is around 4 hours—they’ve got directions for using a mixer/bread machine for some of the steps, but it’s still pretty time-consuming.
Was it worth it? Sure. The baguette came out crispy and chewy, with that full flavor of almost a whisper of a tang. Of course I don’t have any fancy baguette pans or a steam-injected oven, but I did spray them with water and bake them on my pizza stone (they baaaaarely fit). Next time I think I’ll try the French dough setting on the bread machine as a shortcut and see if I get the same results.
The ciabatta, as you can see by the photo, came out a little flat. Looks more like focaccia. The directions cautioned against adding too much flour so I didn’t…but probably should have. The flavor’s great, though.
And yes, most of it went straight into the freezer.