Well this was a proper daring baking challenge this month. A daunting, 14 page recipe with only 3 ingredients. The closer it got, the more dread I felt. I mean what if I put all the work in and its inedible. I'm not terribly good at following detailed recipes, so trying not to forget anything in an epic like this seemed almost impossible.
Thankfully the weather was horrible on Sunday and the perfect thing to do was to stay in and make bread. I'm also very lucky that my house hovers around 70 degrees most of the year, so there was no problem keeping at the desired temperature for the rises.
I set to work with the kitchenaid while I was making breakfast, then popped it in a safe place for the first rise. Not too bad really, the second rise was easy too. This is a picture of the dough after the second rise, when it had started to deflate.
The hard part was next, trying to coddle the dough between tea towels into a nice shape for baking, and forming the loaves. I decided on two round loaves and a small baton. It really wasn't as bad as I expected, although this required the most concentration, and re-reading. Note that I covered them with plastic and then realised I was supposed to cover them with a towel, so I changed that! I think round loaves are a good way to go as they seem to support themselves.
I then slashed them, sprayed with water and threw them on the pizza stone, then was rewarded with a beautifully browned loaf and a rumbling tummy. I think one of the secrets to a lovely brown crust was spraying with water. I also had a pan of water in the oven, although I wasn't quite thorough enough to do the proper baking oven tricks.
Maybe the hardest part was waiting a couple of hours for the bread to cool! When we sat down to our dinner, a mixture of salad to go with our bread, we cut the loaf and it was near perfection. The crust was chewy and nicely brown and the middle was lovely and soft.
When I set out on this journey I was certain I'd never make this bread again, but you know it really wasn't that bad once I got going, and the active time was probably around an hour, really not bad for such wonderful bread. I was over the moon to see the fruits of my hard work, it was a very worthwhile challenge and next time I have a lazy Sunday I'll probably make it again.
Thanks very much to Keith, for lending me the pizza stone. It was definitely worth using and I might just get my own next time I'm out shopping.