Now that I'm back in the bread-baking groove, I can't stop! Fresh on the heels of my focaccia, I whipped up a batch of this French Bread. I am so happy to be baking bread again, because I just love it.
Earlier this year, before I started my blog, I had never baked a loaf of bread. All of a sudden, however, I decided it was something I was going to get into. I was a little nervous, the whole thing seemed daunting. I bought a few bread books, but didn't really make anything. Until I joined The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge.
Since joining, I've made things I never thought would be coming out of my oven; Brioche, English Muffins, Ciabatta, Focaccia, Cinnamon Rolls, the list goes on and on! I am so grateful for this group, especially the Slow & Steady sub-group, because when I've been dragging my heels, inevitably one of the lovely ladies inspires me to forge ahead. I also think I'm very fortunate to have gotten into bread baking through this amazing book, because it is so specific in its instructions that it really gives you the confidence to make anything!
I love making bread, especially kneading by hand. It is amazing to feel the dough transform over the course of a few minutes from something stiff and restricted to something smooth, elastic, relaxed. It is such a gratifying experience to mix the ingredients together, knead and nurture the dough over a period of time - often two days with Peter Reinhart's recipes - form it into loaves and then entrust it to the oven, where it becomes that nourishing, satisfying thing we call bread. How in the world did someone figure out how to make this stuff?!
I have a difficult time describing the taste of bread, but this French Bread is among the best I've ever had. It had such a depth of flavor that I kept thinking there were things in and on it that weren't there - cheese and butter, namely. The crust was very thick and crunchy as French Bread crust should be, the inside tender and creamy.
I ate a lot of it plain, but also made some into superb crostini topped with olive oil, goat cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes, onions and garlic with coriander and sea salt. Oh my goodness was it amazing. It was gobbled up so quickly I didn't get any photos, but I will definitely make it again so that I can share it with you.
The recipe for this bread can be found in The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. A must-have book for every home baker.
Even the littlest member of my family loved it!