Tuesday 26 February 2008

They've done it again!

Each and every time, the Daring Bakers group, of which I am fortunate to be a part, has has pushed me to try something new and unfamiliar. This month's challenge - French bread - was no different. I suppose there are several reasons why I don't bake bread very often. First, although I like bread very much, I try not to eat so much of it. These last 3 months or so have been an exception as I've found myself craving carbs after my insane running schedule. Second, it always feels like such a hassle to have to plan your day around the extended rest periods that yeasted dough often requires. So when I first read about this month's recipe, I was looking forward to the trying this out as there's nothing I love better than a crusty baguette with a dollop of salted French butter.

I must admit that the first time I read the recipe, I was a little taken aback. Together with all the notes that were included, the recipe spanned 11 pages long! I was also a little dismayed to find that the dough required between 7-9 hours of resting time! I guess there's a reason they call this the Daring Bakers' group.

Undeterred, I embarked on this recipe bright and early last Saturday. Following the instructions, I put the ingredients in my trusty KitchenAid and in no time, the dough was all prepped for its first rise. Since I was planning a long run that day (30km!), I left the dough to proof and headed out to the park for my run.

Upon returning, the dough was nice and springy, so I proceeded to the next step and prepared the dough for its second rise. Since we were both feeling slightly drained after our respective long runs, I had no problem sitting at home and chilling for a couple of hours. Now those of you who know me will know that this is not my preferred modus operandi on a weekend. After having to sit at work all week, I like to make the most of my weekends and usually have an action-packed schedule of activities planned. Things, however, are certainly a little different after a 3 hour jog.

At the end of the second rise, I decided to shape the dough into two medium round loaves, or pain de miches. This time, M and I decided to head out for a movie. Third resting time also easily taken care of!

I finally put the bread into the oven at 8pm that evening and was very pleased with the way it looked coming out of the oven. The crust had turned a nice dark brown and save for the missing slashes on the top of the bread (they sealed up after baking in the oven), I thought the breads looked great. Given the suggestion to let the dough rest for 3 hours before eating, it wasn’t until Sunday morning that I finally got to taste the fruits of my labour.

Unfortunately, despite all my efforts and best intentions, the bread, which was nice and crispy on the outside, tasted way too ‘yeasty’ for me. I’m not sure if I may have over-proofed the bread or maybe used too much yeast?? In any case, this month’s challenge wasn’t a slam dunk success so I’ll have to find the time (and the courage!) to try this again.

For recipe, click here