It’s generally accepted in this part of the world that resolutions—big plans to eat healthier, be more organized, volunteer more, and so on—are made on January 1st. When I was growing up, that never quite felt right to me. I don’t think I’m alone in the feeling that September was a more appropriate time to be making changes: after a summer of fun and freedom, September meant back to school, a perfect time to vow to quit procrastinating, do extra credit work this year, and get involved in that drama club I’m always saying I want to join. Even as I grew older and summers meant getting a job and working most of the hot hours away, September was always a time for a new beginning, an opportunity to resolve to do better and to be better. Today, I’m still going to school, and will be starting up again in a week. As I mentioned in my last post, I have had an eventful summer: I planned a wedding, had a wedding, and now I’m married! I do feel a little like a new person, and so the start of this school year seems an especially appropriate time to start making promises to myself (and now, to you) about how I’m going to be a better new me. I won’t bore you with the list, but I do have one that seems relevant enough to share: bake more bread.
To kick off my new life as a regular bread baker, I decided to make a loaf of whole wheat French bread. It’s a basic, straight-forward bread, and seemed like a good starting point. One of the keys successful bread is accurate measuring and, whenever possible using weight measurements rather than volume measurements. Weights are far more accurate, whereas volumes can have some variations.
At the end of the process, you have yourself a beautiful, simple loaf of bread, the kitchen smells amazing, and you have (I hope) passed a relaxing bread-baking afternoon.
Whole Wheat French Bread
From Professional Baking 5th Edition by Wayne Gisslen
Makes one 1 lb. loaf
0.5 lb. water
0.4 oz fresh yeast, or 0.2 oz active dry yeast
6 oz whole wheat flour
8 oz bread flour or all-purpose flour
0.3 oz salt
0.07 oz malt syrup or honey
0.3 oz sugar
0.3 oz shortening
First, if using fresh or active dry yeast, dissolve the yeast in warm (100 F-105 F) water.
window, but it should be done once the dough is quite elastic and doesn’t break quickly when stretched.
Once the first 10 minutes are up, the water tray should be removed from the oven, and then baking continues until the crust has a rich, deep brown color.