Fifteen breads down, twenty-eight to go…

Once more I should say that all recipes from the challenge can be found here, a must-have book for any serious (or beginner) bread baker.

Reinhart’s Italian Bread is quite similar to the previous one (French Bread), except that it takes a “biga” instead of a “poolish”. No need to run away all scared, those are terms to describe the pre-mixture of flour, water, and yeast, that generally ferments for 24 hours before being used in the final dough. Usually a “biga” is firmer (contains less water).

For this bread, I changed the method of kneading. Instead of adding the dough to the Kitchen Aid and watching the machine do its job, I kneaded it myself, but used my favorite method: folding. I put the advice from bakers over at “The Fresh Loaf” to work, folding the dough twice, at 40 and 80 minutes, then forming a “boule” at 120 minutes. One more hour rising, and into the oven it went. These pictures show the second folding (made in two directions), and the “boule” right after shaping. Notice how bubbly it was, even before the final rise.

After 1 hour at room temperature, the dough rose about 1.5X of its original size, as expected. It had a spongy texture, airy and light. It lost some of it when I dumped it into my clay pot, but not much. It had good enough oven spring to recover.

This bread is spectacular, the crumb has excellent texture, the crust is not too hard, not too soft, just right. As my husband put it, “it is not very easy to stop eating it”. Indeed. It was a wise decision to make half the recipe, because there is only so much running one can do. šŸ˜‰

A final shot of the crumb…




Another bread I was looking forward to! We arrived from the other side of the world a little tired, but after a nice shower I grabbed the book and preparedĀ  “pate fermentee”. It’s a fancy name for a simple thing: flour, salt, yeast, and water, kneaded together, allowed to rise for one hour and placed in the fridge overnight.

French bread is reasonably easy to make, but tricky to shape, as the dough contains a high proportion of water. Refrain from adding too much flour and you are half the way there.

These photos show the complete dough (pate fermentee’ + more flour, salt, yeast and water) before and after rising for 2 hours at room temperature.Ā  I cut the dough into three pieces, shaped as baguettes, taking care to deflate it as little as possible.


The baguettes rise one more time, at least 45 minutes, then go into a 500F oven. I need more practice shaping baguettes, but overall I think they worked quite well.



The crumb is not very open, but the bread has excellent flavor and texture.Ā  They were a nice complement to our dinner tonight!