Jan 2010 Update: Firstly, I need to retake those baguette photographs...secondly, lately I am cutting down my amount of water by 1/4 of a cup this way my dough is not so sticky and I don't have to worry about mentioning the extra flour as mentioned in this post. They have been turning out perfect!
Well, perhaps not JUST like. There was no thrill of standing in line on a cobblestone street for these babies, just the thrill of baking them with my babies. I know there are some pretty good bread recipes floating around out there, even ones where you can take a little dough from the fridge each day to make a new loaf but this is my humble contribution to Blogger Breadland. I double this recipe then freeze whatever we don't eat that day. Tell you the truth, they are almost better after being heated up in oven after being frozen. The crust gets even crustier! And aside from the occasional Rice or Sprouted grain loaf this is the only bread we eat - if I can in any way be a part of de-wondering Wonder Bread for you, well, then I've done my job. If you want to do serious battle with these ridiculous temps (it's 6 degrees as I type) then bake some bread, the comforting smell will do wonders for the winter blahs...we enjoyed our most recent batch with some of that Onion Soup from the other day!
(This is a double batch, if I am going to bake bread I'm not messing with a single batch!)
8 Cups (ish) unbleached organic flour (You'll see on the "ish") 2 tablespoons of yeast 4 Cups warm water 2-4 TEAspoons of salt (4 can be a little salty, two can taste under salted...three may be just right for you) Oil
In a large bowl mix the flour and salt, then divide in half, put the half in another bowl (big enough to add the water and for the dough to rise). Mix the yeast in with the warm water and add to your new "big enough" bowl. Put in a warm area, cover if you can and let it rise for 3 hours. After three hours add the remaining flour and salt mixture and knead for 10 minutes. If you find that your dough is still a runny mess go ahead and add a little more flour 'til it's not. This is not an exact science and I have not been able to improve the texture of my dough by simply adding more flour at the beginning....back to the kneading- Your kids will get a kick out of this, I let Aidan go to town and he thinks it pretty funny to punch and throw the dough around. Coat a large bowl with oil and put your kneaded dough in it - let it rise for another hour then knead again. Form into 6 loafs (cookie sheet length for us mere mortals who have domestic size ovens). I don't have those fancy loaf pans but if you do - go for it. Even with my convection I bake three loafs at a time on one cookie sheet just to make sure the air and moisture can really circulate. Let your dough loafs rise for 10-20 more minutes as you pre-heat your oven to a hellish 450 degrees. Fill a bowl with water and place inside the oven, put your loafs in and savor the smells. Remove the water after 15 minutes and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes. Actually this can get pretty personal depending on how crunchy you want your crust. You can eyeball it and chances are you're not going to ruin them. Then break out the butter, chocolate or cheese and ENJOY! Sure, there is a little work involved but there is something heady about being able to bake your own bread. I mean move over Peggy Lee! Baking your own bread, the smell swirling through your house - never mind the thrill of your hubby and kids! Go for it W-O-M-A-N!!!
Simply break your remaining loaves in half and freeze in zip-lock bags or if you want to keep them intact, wrap them in plastic wrap and foil. To enjoy, unwrap or remove from bag (I should not have to say THAT!) put your oven on 325 or so and heat 'em up! You'll be pleasantly surprised!