Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Baguette Lady

I seem to be really forgetful these days. My mind rambles a lot, probably because I've got way too much running through it.

So it's no surprise that I can't remember when I last made bread. If I can't even pinpoint a date, it's at least two weeks back, and chances are, I probably haven't even made bread proper since before my vacation/business trip last month.

That must explain, then, my urge to bake bread during this time off.

I've got a number of bread recipes I want to try before Christmas, just to get myself into the holiday spirit, and when I pulled out the recipe for a Greek celebration bread (from The Bread Baker's Apprentice) this weekend, I discovered that it required that I make poolish, a pre-ferment of flour, water, and yeast to start the dough.

The recipe for poolish, though, made more pre-ferment than was needed in the Greek recipe, so I had to find another recipe to use it up. In flipping through the rest of the book, I found that I could use it in baguettes, so I decided on that as a simple solution to my dilemma.

I mixed up the dough early this morning and let it rise in my cool kitchen while I walked up the hill for a local-foods meeting and for a visit to the Chef Mother (who's back in the hospital for a blessedly brief stay). By the time I returned home, the dough was ready to be punched down for a second rise.

Once it was done fermenting, I shaped the dough into two medium-sized baguettes (though given the breadth of my loaves, I suppose technically they're more batards than baguettes... but that's just being picky!).

While the loaves proofed, I mixed the dough for the Greek bread, and soon I was ready to slide the baguettes into a hot, steamy oven for a quick bake. Twenty minutes later, I had two golden loaves with a crisp, steaming crust:

Heavenly! I almost feel as though I should head out on a bicycle with one of these tucked in my basket, cycling down a tree-lined lane for a picnic. (It's actually warm enough outside today for that!) Instead, I may share one loaf with my Wonderful Parents or with friends, and the rest I'll devour on my own.

And though I may forget when I've last made bread before this, I never forget the divine smell of the fresh bread and how wonderful it makes me feel!


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