I don’t know if I’ve told y’all or not, but here it is, out in the open: I’m a bread fiend. And I’m not kidding – my parents and fiancee will testify that this is the God’s-honest truth. 354 can’t understand how I can eat plain slices of white bread (guilty pleasure). As a kid, up until both Mom’s and Dad’s households figuratively threw out white bread for honey wheat or wheat in high school, one of my favorite snacks was white sandwich slices and a cold glass of milk. I love it to this day. But I have to be careful, or half a loaf will be gone in a matter of minutes. True story.
I love any kind of ‘white’ bread: sandwich bread, French baguettes, soft Italian, sourdough… basically anything non-wheat that you can buy in a grocery store bakery. I’m terrible with all that in the house. It’s gone in a flash. And I don’t feel (too) guilty about it after the fact, either. Thing is, those loaves get kind of expensive, especially at that level of consumption. But not even then did Mom – or I, to be more accurate – delve into bread-baking at home. The thought of anything more complicated than pasta with cream sauce or more time-consuming than open-faced basil-and-provolone sandwiches was foreign to me then. Even as I got more adventurous in college, anything to do with yeast or baking was a no-go. Too scary. Too unsure. Too involved. Then I got into bread, though not necessarily with the no-knead crowd (ABin5 is still on my wishlist). Just baby steps; sticking my toes in the water. Foccacia, sandwich bread, wheat bread, white bread – just playing around.
I always wanted to make baguettes, but didn’t have the special pan. Woe is me, I’d say (or something similar). How could it be a baguette without a baguette pan? I would have to wait out the day I got one, and then the baguettes would fill the house with fragrant, yeasty goodness.
Well, now I know better. Hell with the baguette pan. Baguettes are too small anyway (I’m still getting one at some point, but now I care less about immediacy.) Last night, I made two large loaves. And I ate almost half of one for breakfast this morning. Oh my word, this is good stuff.
This would’ve taken me all of two hours if I’d kept on it, but as it was, it took me about three and a half in between making a full supper, cleaning 10 stalls and doing half my barn chores. The dough rose fast and high and the loaves baked up quickly and beautifully. Both came out with a heavy crust and when I cut into one this morning, I was more than happy to come upon the soft, dense crumb.
I did a few things differently, mainly because of time and inattention and what I had in the pantry. The recipe called for active dry yeast, but I used bread machine or instant yeast, because that’s what I had available. In this case, I’m sure you could just skip the first step of proofing the yeast and add it straight, being as this is a very wet dough. Personally, I’ll probably continue with the proofing step, just because I like to be lazy with my bread-making. I used white sugar all over (look at the ingredients and steps 1 & 2 for my confusion – sugar and granulated sugar?), but I bet the slight caramel of brown would be nice, too. Rolling the dough out made me wish I had counter space; as it was, I was rolling out dough on my cutting board, on some moving boxes about two feet short of where it needed to be. It worked. I didn’t brush with egg white, and I didn’t score the second loaf. I actually think I like the second one better – I’m a little partial to Italian bread, you see.
In any case, if you haven’t figured out that this bread is awesome, figure it out now, because it is. About 15 minutes hands-on time, less with a stand mixer, no fancy ingredients and only an hour and a half’s worth of wait for a tasty, lovely loaf. Head over to La Fuji Mama and make this stuff now!
…’cause I don’t want to be the only one stuffing my face with it. :)