First things first--my mom's new dog loves to watch me take pictures:
I think that's about the cutest picture of a dog that I've seen in a long time.
I've been failing at the breads and coffee cakes chapter big time. It's mostly because I'm absolutely terrified of bread making at high altitude. The first time my mom visited she attempted to make bread. It failed and she swears she stayed up all night angry about it, so she got up at 5 am to try again. It was much better but still not to her liking. So I've always thought that if my mom, an accomplished bread baker failed, what the heck could I do?
So mom brought up making bread when I was home in Iowa. I thought it was a great idea and started flipping through TJOC. Mom had neither bread flour or milk, one of which is required in almost every TJOC bread recipe. I finally found one that would work--French bread (p. 601).
The recipe has very few ingredients--all-purpose flour, salt, and dry yeast were mixed together. This recipe is slightly strange because the yeast is mixed directly into the flour instead of being mixed with water first. My mom mentioned that my great-aunt, whose baking skills are legendary in my family, always made bread this way.
I made a well in the center and poured in some water:
I then mixed it with my hands until it was "soft and elastic".
Until it doubled in size (a couple hours):
I punched it down and then let it rise again. Eventually, I rolled the loaves out and laid them on a greased pan:
I scored the top of the bread (I did diagonal stripes but TJOC mentions that you can also do one long horizontal stripe):
It looked perfect!
The bread was delicious! Nice and crusty, like a good baguette (or even a good Italian bread). Mom and I expected it to get hard very quickly (because of the total lack of preservatives) but it really didn't. The baguette made amazing little ham sandwiches! The bread was easy and quick--it was actually really fun to make.