Time is once again rushing by faster than Canadian geese flying south for the winter. Soon it will be Thanksgiving, and I will be wondering how I managed to age yet another year in what surely must have been the blink of an eye. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge is more than halfway over, and bread baking has become an integral part of my life. I purchase bread flour whenever the bin is half empty, in much the same way I keep stock of the household milk supply. At least this year, on my birthday, I will be able to point to the photos of the loaves of bread, and say, “This year I learned how to do that.” With all the intangibles of life (ahem, specifically friendscook.com), it’s nice to have something so solid!
The particular loaf you see above is a Pain de Campagne, in an épi shape. This dough is known for being made into many beautiful shapes all over France. It also traditionally has a small bit of rye or whole-wheat flour mixed in with the bread flour. I used a light rye flour in mine. The resulting loaf was rather dense, with a very hard crust. After I’ve made all the breads in the book, I’ll try it again, since I think I baked it too long. (I so wanted that nice caramel color that I ignored the internal temperature.) And I am sure that my not-gentle-enough handling of the dough after the first rise is what led to the density.
This is another bread where a large amount of pre-ferment gives the bread a very complex flavor. But I have to admit, the shaping was the best part. I had no idea that a simple technique with scissors was all it took to make such a gorgeous loaf. In fact, it was so much fun that I might find myself trying it again sooner rather than later! (You can find the recipe here, but I obviously love the whole book!)