Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Baking Bread Again
It's almost like that song ... "Falling in love again..." because I really did miss bread baking while the kitchen was torn up and now it almost seems new. Some of that is because I'm still searching for some of my equipment and supplies, but some is because working in a new space just feels fresh and different. I love it!
This month our talented and straight talking Babe, Ilva of Lucullian Delights blog is Kitchen of the Month and she has chosen Robert Mays French Bread for the Bread Baking Babes to bake. The special ingredient that makes it different from other French breads is egg white. The recipe comes from Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery and it was fun to make. Another somewhat unusual feature is that for the final part of the baking you cover the loaves with pots, for a better crust.
Like Ilva, I didn't cover my loaf but lowered the temperature for the last 15 minutes instead. I think the crust was just fine that way, even if it wasn't very thick. I did use a baking stone, which made for a lovely bottom crust. It was delicious and not difficult at all. The only tip I have is to start out with 8 or 9 oz. liquid (water/milk) for that amount of flour. I used 10 oz. and had to add a little more flour while kneading. If you want a really slack dough, use the larger amount, but I was going for a fairly dense crumb and it was just right. Used King Arthur white whole wheat flour for half for that nutty taste, with a milk or egg yolk wash added just before baking.
I shaped half of the dough into a crown and kept the other half as an oval loaf. I brushed the crown with milk and brushed the oval loaf with the left over egg yolk. Because I was still pretty swamped with punch list tasks when I made it (a few weeks ago, absolutely as soon as I had an oven and enough of my baking stuff organized) I kept it pretty simple.
This is a fine bread for sandwiches, toasting, or just enjoying with butter and jam or to find the last drops of a good stew or soup. Thank you Ilva for choosing just the right recipe for trying out the new kitchen.
Do visit the blogs of our other Babes, too, to see their take on this delightful bread.
Bake My Day - Karen, Blog From OUR Kitchen - Elizabeth, Bread Experience - Cathy, Girlichef - Heather, Life's A Feast - Jaime, Living in the Kitchen With Puppies - Natashya, My Diverse Kitchen - Aparna, My Kitchen in Half Cups - Tanna, Notitie van Lien - Lien.
ROBERT MAY'S FRENCH BREAD
from Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery
500 g/ 1 lb 2 oz preferably a half-and-half mixture of unbleached white and wheatmeal
15 g/ 0,5 oz of yeast (fresh)
2 egg whites
280-340 g/ 0,5 pint to 12 oz water and milk,preferably 3/4 water and 1/4 milk (perhaps a bit less liquid)
15 g/ 0,5 oz salt
- Warm flour and salt in a very tepid oven. (you can skip this - I did)
- Pour in the yeast creamed in a little of the warmed milk and water mixture. Add the egg whites, beaten in a small bowl until they are just beginning to froth. Pour in the remaining milk (but not all at once like I did, I had to add more flour to get the right consistency). Mix as for ordinary bread dough.
- Leave to rise until spongy and light. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the temperature of the ingredients when the dough as mixed.
- Break down the dough, divide it into two round loaves-or long rolls if you prefer. (I made one oval loaf). Cover with plastic or a light cloth and leave to recover volume. About 30 minutes should be enough.
- Decorate crust with cuts or not. Bake in a pre-heated oven (230°C/450°F) for the first 15 minutes. Then to prevent the crust to get too hard, cover the loaves with bowls or an oval casserole. In another 15 minutes the laves should be ready. (I did not cover my loaf because I had nothing of that size of shape that I could use so I lowered the temperature to 175°C/350°F and left it in for another 15-20 minutes, but I did use a bread/pizza stone.)