"Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts." ~ James Beard (1903-1985)
I couldn’t agree more, I could survive on just good warm bread and butter alone. No, really.
I can’t think of anything that has a better aroma than baking bread and when you first get a whiff you know exactly what it is, kind of like popping popcorn. It is the most inviting smell that I can think of, and it all comes from combining 4 of the most humble ingredients available anywhere: flour, yeast, salt and water. The warm end product smeared with coagulated sunlight (butter) is to die for!
"The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…" ~ M. F. K. Fisher (1908-1992)
I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I won’t try…
The yacht club is now open so I am baking bread almost daily, and I sure did miss it! The first baguettes I rolled out looked like someone that hasn’t rolled out baguettes for 5 months! There is something very sensual about making bread though; you have a formula you follow when making the dough but ultimately you go by feel. One day the dough can be too wet and the very next day it could be too dry so you have to trust your hands and eyes to be the judge.
Flour soaks up the water present in the air so when it’s humid, less water is needed. For the baguette recipe that I use as the "mother" to all sorts of variations, the amount of water needed can vary by up to an 8th of a cup. Interestingly, the flour that was stored over the winter in the club needed way more water than I have ever put in for the recipe leading me to the conclusion that the humidity in the Finger Lakes is low in the winter, I guess I was absent the day in culinary school that they covered meteorology.
Baking your own bread isn’t as difficult as you may think. How hard can it be to mix 4 ingredients together and give the yeast time to work its magic and then shape the dough accordingly and then bake? I’m here to tell you it’s easy and well worth it, trust me….