Monday, May 03, 2010

Bread & Butter


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I have to admit, as much as I love the adorable cupcakes, chewy cookies, and other delectable sweets, I REALLY REALLY love bread. And salted butter. With the bread toasted, preferably. It's simple but SOOOO GOOD. Throw a glass of wine in there and I'm a happy camper. (Does the wine make me sound pretentious? It's most often Trader Joe's Charles Shaw, aka 2-Buck Chuck. There. Unpretentious.) This weekend I didn't have many obligations, so Sunday was a primo time to try baking something new. That led me to a recipe I found in ReadyMade Magazine for a simple baguette. Besides sounding delicious, it also sounded pretty easy.

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First off, THE POOLISH!!! That's pronounced "poo-LEESH," fyi. The poolish is a fermentation starter that (while sitting around for several hours) develops a complex flavor as well as a better texture for the bread dough. I could try to educate you and drone on and on, or I could just send you to the Wikipedia explanation. Or this one here from the blog Baking And Books. They'll explain it a lot better. The poolish for this recipe is one part water, one part flour (1 cup of each here), and one tbsp active dry yeast. What you're seeing above is right after the poolish has been sitting for 4.5 hours and I just added the salt.

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Next, after adding the remainder of flour, yeast, water, and salt, you let the dough sit and rise for an hour. That leaves you with a big giant blob of dough. After that first hour, you punch the dough w/ the heels of your hands to get rid of the gas/air the dough has collected. I was pretty psyched. The dough was big and puffy and I couldn't wait to punch that thing. However, silly me, I forgot that just maybe I should've floured my hand first... yeah, smooth move, ML. Brilliant.

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After letting the dough rise yet ANOTHER hour, you shape the dough into loaves and then BAKE AWAY! But first, I made sure to put a lovely egg wash on the loaves and coat those puppies in tasty sea salt and pink himalayan salt! Oh, salty bread, I'm drooling just at the thought.

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And here you have it! About 22 minutes/loaf later, you have crusty bread that's super soft on the inside. HELPFUL HINT: How can you tell when bread is done? It's not like you can poke this thing with a toothpick and "see if it comes out clean," you know what I'm saying? Turns out you can use a thermometer. The internal temp should be about 190°. You could also try some sort of old school method of turning the loaf upside down and hitting it and seeing if it makes a "thumping" sound but 1) that sounds archaic and I have a thermometer and 2) that might knock off my tasty salty topping so forget it. Trusty thermometer it is.

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Do I really need to convince you that the bread is delicious? I mean, look at it. It's a beautiful crusty baguette. Unless you hate on baguettes on a regular basis, this simple loaf will win you over, especially if you're a salt fiend like yours truly. And that salt on top? The crusty outside + the sea salt is similar to a soft pretzel, only better in my opinion!

Now, the recipe will give you 3-4 loaves. What do you do then? I opted for drenching some slices in dipping olive oil, toasting some and slathering them with Nutella, or my first aforementioned love, covering them in salted butter (after toasting them, of course!). I also brought a loaf and a half to work b/c let's face it. This little lady can't consume three loaves of white bread herself! Yikes! I imagine this would also be delicious in soup and it could make some killer appetizers (tomato, basil, mozzerella, DONE). So what do you think? Will you go for it? Are you going to bake some bread??? You know you want to... ;-)

1 comment:

Danae - The Busty Baker said...

I love bread! But I have the problem of always having too much when I attempt to make my own.. But I've never made baguettes before! So I'll have to give them a try! :)

 
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