Bread made into sammiches for Greg's lunch.
Okay, we’re nearly at the end. If you haven’t started the rising process yet, a word of caution: your bread might try to climb out of the vessel you’ve put it in! Keep an eye on it. After you’ve let your bread rise for one hour (less if it’s very warm where you are), turn it out onto a lightly floured surface again.
BUT: do not tug or pull on the dough to get it out of the bowl, and do NOT punch it down. To avoid tugging or pulling your nicely risen dough out of the bowl, use a spatula along the inside of the bowl to sort of dump the whole big mound out on a lightly floured surface again. There are nice big delicious bubbles in there and we don’t want to squash them!
Decide what kind of bread you’re going to make.
Sammich Bread In a Loaf Pan! I have a new bread pan now, but when I took this picture my old bread pan was starting to get sticky, so I laid a sheet of parchment inside it before adding the bread.
This is an "Italian style" loaf read to go into the oven after it's had it's final rise.
If you’re going to make a sandwich loaf, gently, using your fingertips, fold the dough into a shape that will fit into your bread pan.
If you’re making baguettes, gently pull/roll the dough to slightly elongate it, and then cut lengthwise, the number of baguettes you’re going to make. I think three is ideal for this size batch, but I’m making two because I wanted to make larger loaves that I could use for sandwiches.
Another thing to do is make one large italian style loaf on a cookie sheet.
Okay, so about forming your loaves. This is important. You know how the perfect baguette has a crisp crunchy smooth crust and the inside is all fluffy and soft and delicious? Well part of that is because of this technique. to shape your bread and to smooth out those gluten strands on the outside of your loaf (this makes a nice envelope for your bread – that’s the only way I can describe it) “karate chop” lengthwise down your baguette, then grasp the outer edges and pinch them together, and chop again. Do this several times.
A blurry photo of me Karate Chopping the bread. This is how we're going to make our baguettes have a wonderful crunchy crust and fluffy interior.
After the bread is "karate chopped" the edges are pulled back together and crimped with your finger tips. This is repeated several times - it's how the crust gets a smooth crunchy consistency that traps the moisture inside the bread.
Once you have your baguette shape, roll it gently back and forth and place it on a baking sheet on which you’ve sprinkled some semolina, cornmeal, or cream of wheat or have laid some parchment. Place the bread seam-down.
No mater what kind of bread you’re making, it will need to rise before going into the oven. Let it rest for about 1/2 and hour.
You don’t want the outside of the crust to dry out already, so you can brush the loaf with some oil or butter, or water and oil.
Another tip is to place a cake pan on the bottom rack of your oven and pour boiling water into it, put your bread in the oven (without the heat on) and the warm steam will help your bread rise without drying out.
After about half an hour you can add the “slices” to the top of your loaf. This helps the bread continue to rise and gives it some vents.
If you’ve had your bread rising in the oven with steam, remove it, and turn the oven up to 450. If your bread has been rising on the counter, pre-heat your oven now. Place a pan with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of boiling water in it on the bottom rack and move the top rack to the middle of your oven.
Cut some slices into your bread. For baguettes it’s really important that you make 3 equal slices that overlap each other slightly like this. Once you’ve made your slices let the bread sit for about 10 minutes or until your oven has reached 450 degrees. Now put your bread in the oven!
Your cooking time will depend on what size loaf you’re making. A sandwich loaf takes about 45 minutes, but I start hovering around the oven after about 30 minutes because my oven is unreliable and tends to scorch things. Baguettes can be done within 20 minutes if they’re small.
Keep an eye on it after a bit. You want your bread to have a nice dark golden crust, and when it’s done it will have a hollow sound when you tap the bottom. Let your bread cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then EAT!
Sammich loaf after cooling. I actually brushed the top of this loaf with oil after I cut the slices into the top, and I think it gave the crust a nice crackle.
Mister Max approved baguette. Smells pretty good.