August 11, 2004

False expectations

I've been engaged on something of a bread mission. I've made huge foccacia's which have been easy to sell, everyone likes them. I've been making white bread which has risen to the sky (stably) and has been great for sandwiches and absolutely fabulous for toast. It has a degree of substance without weight they don't make in commercial white bread. I've made some brown bread which had rather too much substance. I think the toilet pan has survived, but it was a close run thing. And I've been working on the Holy Grain/Grail/Crumb whatever, which for me is French Bread. It requires overnight rising, rising at ROOM TEMPERATURE (which I think is substantially warmer than the present ambient temperatures). It takes time and planning. My first attempt didn't rise, so I used an old trick and activated the yeast before using (sounds flash, just means I mix it in sugary water before adding to the dough, I use some of the bread ingredients to make it so it doesn't change proportions). This time it rose much better, but it still isn't what I was expecting. I'm expecting a very light loaf, with a very even texture and a mild taste. I'm getting a slightly golden loaf, which a moist and firm texture, and an interesting slightly fermented taste. I've eaten this stuff with butter, and it is damn good, maa'm, damn good. But is it French Bread? I know they have been arguing about bread in France, and that the light as air supermarket bread has been getting trashed, but is what I am making the real thing??, or do I have further changes to make? Perhaps adding gluten will give that smoother finer crumb I associate with what I have been told is French bread, here at the bottom of the Pacific, a long way from France.

What I really need is to go on an investigative trip to Paris and check out what the French call baguette. Sounds as good a reason for the trip as any I have come up with. Now I have the motivation, all I need is the airfare...

Posted by Toni at August 11, 2004 01:07 PM

Proper baguette goes stale within 6-12 hours and is then only good for pain perdu (french toast). so if you can bear to put some aside thats one way to test..

Don't expect any consensus on bread when you get to France either. And are you aiming for baguette, pain, batard, pain de mie, pain au levain, pain de compagne...
Pretentious? Moi?

Posted by: Georgina at August 12, 2004 02:19 AM

Damn, a can of worms!

Yup, my 'french' bread goes stale in a impressively short time (no fat in it). Looks like the trip to France will have to be quite long so that I can check out all these versions, and figure out how they are all made...

Anyone want to sponsor this research trip??

Posted by: toni at August 12, 2004 09:14 AM