I already made this recipe twice, and it flopped both times. This time I'm going to get it right!
While the dough was resting the first time I realized that my boy is something of a "flower child" today!
We took turns kneading - he wasn't really up for watching all 850 whacks of the bread this time, so I pouched him up and went to town. That worked better than him screeching for attention. Although it took a very long time today, we did get the bread dough made and it's doing the first rise now. So far, so good.
Still looking good - best it ever has at this point, in fact. I realized that I forgot to use my special unbleached flour, and so it's just regular all-purpose this time. I don't know if that's helping, but the bread was much lighter after the first rise, and it had the air bubbles that needed to be popped this time too. So I flattened it, reshaped it, and repainted it with olive oil (an idea from Canela & Cominio), and it's now working on its second rise. I'm off to eat lunch.
I think that this waiting part is perhaps the hardest part of the process of making this bread. I'm about 1/2 way through the 2nd rise now, and there's the shaping & then another rise to go before I get to cook... and then the sill stuff thinks it wants a rest before I get to eat it! But I digress. I didn't actually intend to whine about how long this bread takes. I had planned on listing several of the things that I have learned in this, my first, Daring Bakers Challenge.
1. I can now spell "Daring."
2. Bread needs to be beaten around a bit more than I have been. I've tried the kneading technique on some other bread (pizza dough that became pizza pockets and bread sticks) and it's just better than the old way. If for no other reason than that, I'm glad that I did this challenge.
3. Sticky is not always bad. In fact, in this case sticky is good. And if you give it 5 minutes after you add the water, sticky isn't so sticky after all.
I just shaped the bread into some nice long loaves. This being my third try, I'm mostly just interested in getting the bread part to turn out right, and I don't really care any more if the shape of the bread is completely authentic anymore. But I did decide not to use my baguette pan, in the spirit of the challenge still. This is easily the softest kooshiest dough I have ever made. Tartelette says that she's going to cut out the second rise when she makes this recipe again, and also decrease the salt. I think that with those two changes (and the successful completion of the bread-in-progress) that I could think about doing the french bread again. And Tartelette also eats her bread as a chocolate sandwich. I just happen to need to do some grocery shopping this afternoon, and I think that I'm going to have to get some nice chocolate. Probably dark chocolate. It sounds delicious.
I am so irritated! Everything was perfect until the last 5 minutes of baking. But we were leaving to go grocery shopping as soon as the bread came out, so I put my shoes on & rounded up the Monkey & put his shoes on too. When I came back the bread had burnt. (It came out of the oven around 5:30.) It's still delicious, but you have to cut the top crust off. Had I just taken it out before we put our shoes on, like I'd considered doing, my bread would have been picture-perfect. Well, except that one of my seams wasn't sealed well enough & came apart during baking. But still, it's some of the best bread I've had in a very long time. I got some dark chocolate this evening while I was out & tried Tartelette's "chocolate sandwich," and that is good! Just as good was Andy's reaction: he asked me if I'm sure I'm not pregnant! Sadly, I could assure him that I am not, and I did so once I was done laughing so hard I couldn't speak!
More stuff I learned from this bread:
4. You can avoid the whole "unmoulding" step by letting the silly stuff rise on the pizza stone after you shape it.
5. Trust my bread making instincts: if it looks perfect, take that baby out!
6. Chocolate is an important ingredient to have on hand when making this bread. Most good stuff.