I caught myself almost shedding a tear today as I kneaded some basic white dough. Perhaps this has gone a little too far, this peace and joy I feel while making bread?! I encourage everyone to get their hands in some dough and see it from beginning to end... it's a beautiful thing (figuratively and literally).
Bread making is largely something done by feel, one can have estimated times for kneading, rising and all these other things, but temperature, types of flour and so on change these factors from bread to bread. Today I decided to take it to the next level and allow my baking stone to heat up in the oven, then slide the shaped dough onto it once the oven is good and hot. Bread making can seem overwhelming at first, but after having done it so many times, little steps like these are no big deal. It reminds me a little of when I learned how to drive a car. Here in Canada we have the choice to learn on automatic or standard - I chose standard since my roots are German and it is a shame for a German not to drive stick, let me tell you! But while driving such a car, there is a lot to do at once, we must shift gears, watch the road, stop at stop signs and avoid running over pedestrians. I focused on shifting first - and ran through a few stop signs! In bread making, shifting gears is a little like figuring out how the flour comes together with the water, yeast and anything else it may need. Once this is perfected, we can add some extra steps, a stop sign may be likened to a hot baking stone in the oven, or giving the dough a particular shape.
I made Fougasse today. I think it's french. But I could be entirely mistaken. Regardless, it's a baguette style dough, just flour, salt, water and yeast. I love to tear into bread at dinner time, don't you? Crusty on the outside, fluffy on the inside... So fresh, so very handmade, so .... cheap to prepare! It cost me under a dollar to make 6 large Fougasse - and I probably would have spent at least $5 at a bakery. But, really, it's certainly not about the money here, but rather the process that goes into it and the reward at the end when you get to enjoy.
What's the next step? Figuring out how to time my baking right in order to bring friends warm bread more often than now. It's just all that better when shared!
I have no recipe for you today, rather an invitation of bread making together, as I strongly believe in the sharing of knowledge. It can be a 3 hour process, but time flies when you are having fun...