No Steam vs. SteamSteam 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.
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Sweet Rosemary-Orange Bread, or How I Stumbled and Mangled my Way to an Edible Loaf

How embarrassing.

The breadbakingday #01 challenge, as presented by Zorra, was to bake a bread with herbs. Yes, I thought, I can do this!

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.

rosemary-orange-bread-slice.jpgLet’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.
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What It’s About

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...]