Today, at the last minute, I decided I wanted some bread to go with dinner. And when I say last minute in terms of yeast bread, I mean about three or four hours before dinner. I was serving something for dinner that demanded to be sopped up with some good bread and since that famous bread recipe seems to be so easy and forgiving, I decided to give it a try at 3:00 PM and see what happened. (as for what demanded to be sopped up, that’s for another post, but I will tell you this much – it was triumph! A triumph, I say!!! Stay tuned.)
I ended up halving the bread recipe and because it was so late, I tried to give the rise a little head start. I preheated my oven to 200 degrees, and then shut it off. A few minutes later, I put my dough (in a metal bowl) in the oven and waited. The first couple times I peeked, it didn’t look like it was doing much, but by 5:00 it was very puffy. I took it out around 5:15 and preheated the oven to 450.
I used all the dough at once this time – I wanted a big loaf for all that good sopping. The dough was super sticky and I used a lot of flour on my hands and on my work surface. I shaped the dough into a longer baguette shape for a change, and after I scraped as much of the doughy goo off my fingers as I could, I smushed that extra under the baguette where it didn’t have to look pretty. Then I let it sit on my pizza piel for a half hour or so and rest.
Shortly before placing it in the oven, I cut some slashes in the loaf and decided to get all French-like on it and brush on some melted butter. I also sprinkled on a little kosher salt for kicks.
I need not have worried about it not rising enough, for once it hit my pizza stone it became Frankenloaf!
And here it is, hot out of the oven, in all its fat, crackly, golden brown glory.
One interesting note about this version of the bread is that I immediately noticed how much lighter it seemed than the other loaves I have made so far.
And when I cut in, it had a finer crumb and a slightly less crunchy crust, which I thought was lovely. And perfect for sopping! I am now truly convinced: making bread, really good bread, does not need to be hard at all, or even take up much time. So, give it a try – apparently it is pretty difficult to screw it up and don’t you want something wonderful for sopping the next time you have something sop-a-riffic for dinner? You do, trust me, you do. Next post!