What a bunch of terrific breads! Zorra of kochtopf hosted breadbakingday #01, themed “bread with herbs.” It was a great success, with 33 baker/bloggers from 13 countries showcasing creations using more than a dozen different herbs – perfect for summer baking. I can’t wait to start trying some of these breads. Thanks to Zorra for hosting this!
I know what you’re thinking: Can she really have written this much about water, the most boring of bread ingredients? This girl really needs to find something to do.
But wait: water’s function is much more interesting than simply that of the matchmaker that brings flour, yeast, and salt together. The quality of my bread really improved once I learned how to adjust the amount and temperature of the water to control some characteristics of the dough.
Steam is important during the initial phase of baking most hearth breads. It facilitates oven-spring by preventing the crust from setting too rapidly, and enhances crust color. Breads baked without steam can taste fine, but the crust is likely to be a dull, pale grayish color rather than the rich brown most of us are after. Ready for a photo quiz? Hint: the top thing is not a peanut on steroids.
I have spent way more time than I should have scouring books and online articles and discussion groups looking for the perfect way to introduce steam to my baking loaves. I’ve spent hours and hours, and more than a little money, trying just about everything. But in the end, it’s come down to two methods that work for me.
I have a beautiful couple of rosemary plants that have really taken off this year, but today I didn’t feel like doing my oft-made rosemary-olive sourdough. I had the brilliant idea that I would create something quite different from my usual fare, to present for my first blogging event.
Let’s just say this was not my finest example of clear thinking. But my thought when I started this blog was to document the bloopers as well as the unqualified successes, and in the end this didn’t turn out too bad anyway.
Let’s be clear up front: I really have no credentials, no business writing a blog, much less one that has anything to do with food. I’m not young, hip, witty, artistic, or visionary. I’m not a foodie, a chef, a writer, a critic, or a photographer. I can’t cook, although I sometimes try, but I don’t eat out much either. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the concept of a “trackback.”
Yes, the sad truth is that I possess a solitary qualification: I bake a lot of bread. [Read more...]