Friday, February 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - French Bread

I almost wimped out on my first official DB challenge. When they posted that it was going to be French bread I was OK with it. Until I read the 7 pages of instructions! Talk about time consuming. But this last weekend was a big storm and pretty much all of town was hunkering down at their homes expecting huge winds, lots of rain, cold, and power outages. I decided it was a cooking weekend. I made the chili, the chess pie, the cheese bread, and for the cheese bread I used.... the DB French bread.

Putting together the recipe was not that big of a deal. The big deal was the waiting for the triple rises of the bread dough and the fact that my house is cold. The first rise takes at least three hours. Half way through I realized my cold house wasn't cutting it. I did one of the alternatives and plopped the bowl on top of a heating pad and that made all the difference.

The second rise was just the same, except it was during this time that I had read about the online PBS videos showing how to make the bread. Wish I had seen it earlier. It showed how much I should have kneaded the bread and manipulated it to get the best gluten and yeast action. Oh well - at least my bread was rising.

Finally I cut my dough to make two batards and then they had to rise. But I faced a cold kitchen and they didn't budge. So I grabbed a space heater and pointed it at the loaves and that helped.

So you can see my final product above - the better of my two batards. (I wish I could take nicer pictures like other blogs, but I have crappy lighting in my house and end up with flash pictures.) It was a good challenge because I had never made bread from scratch before. But the likelihood of me doing it again when it is so easy to buy a loaf from Il Fornaio? Highly unlikely.

The DB challenges are done by the order you sign up. At that rate it will be 2015 before I get to choose the challenge. But I already know what I want to do, a Filipino dessert. Not telling what it is - but it would be a great challenge for everyone.

The recipe for the challenge is at The Sour Dough.
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