Breaking Bread


Followers of this blog know how much I worship Julia Child, not only for her ability to make both savory and sweet, but her charm and perseverance in making her passion into a reality. I have watched so many times the movie Julie & Julia and I am a hundred percent able to relate with Julia Powell.

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The most resonant quote for me whenever her name comes into mind is her endearing statement to her beloved Paul, “you are the butter to my bread, the breath to my life.’ It is an incredibly heartwarming thing to say especially to food lovers and bread-o-philes. Who doesn’t want to be someone’s butter to one’s bread? I would gladly be the butter or the bread. Either way.

This constantly progressing affair with bread baking did not end with the sticky buns I made a year ago. Even I did not think that I will be able to make bread again. But fortunately, an opportunity presented itself and gave me the chance to practice, develop and perfect certain bread recipes. You see, I was actually not a bread eater. If given a choice, I’d choose rice over bread in a snap. But only about a year ago, I learned to appreciate bread especially when I started to make the bread myself. Now, I’d say that bread and rice have their own place in my heart.

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I tried to make this French bread hoping that it would make a great foundation of a Po Boy. The resulting bread was very dense and heavy. I don’t know what happened. The dough did not look smooth when it is being kneaded so I added some flour. However, that resulted to a dry dough so it resulted to a wet dough. And the cycle went on until I finally decided that the dough looked fine already. The process was easy to do once I got to visually see how to shape the dough. I followed the procedures and finally got the bread baked. I really love the crust it had. It was crackling as we cut the bread. One of the best sounds to hear is the crackling of freshly baked bread, and one of the best smelling too! Although good in flavor, the result was, again, too dense and heavy for me. A little more practice and research I guess will help me become a better bread baker.

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The thing that I liked about the recipe is how simple it is. There are no special ingredients added. Rustic and simple, just how I like my bread. The only hard part about bread baking is the waiting. It may take long but it is incredibly easy.

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French Bread

Recipe from Jenn Hall found in Allrecipes.com

6 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.

Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.

With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.

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