OMG. I can't tell you how wonderful this baguette tastes. Now, I am a newbie bread baker, however, I am not a newbie bread taster. I love bread. That is one of the reasons why I now only eat one 'bread' (or processed) carb meal a day. Any more that 1 and I want bread all day long.
I was very excited to try my hand at baking Peter Reinhart's Pain a l'Ancienne. He uses a delayed fermentation method, which apparently is a new process recently developed in bread baking. The fermentation depends on ice cold water to release flavor trapped in flour in a way different from the more traditional method.
After mixing 6 cups of flour, 2 1/2 t salt, 1 3/4 yeast and 3 cups ice cold water in my kitchen aid mixer for 15 minutes as the dough is too wet to knead by hand, the mixture sat in the refrigerator overnight. It didn't even double in size when I had pulled it out today. Today it sat on the counter for 3 hours, rising a bit more.
This is what Reinhart says " This bread shows us another way to manipulate time, and outcomes, by manipulating temperature. The cold mixing and fermentation cycles delay the activation of the yeast until after the enzymes have begun their work of breaking out sugar from the starch. When the dough is brought to room temperature and the yeast wakes up and begins feasting (don't you love that, yeast feasting!) it feeds on sugars that weren't there the day before. Because the yeast has converted less of the released sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide, a reserve of sugar remains in the fermented dough to flavor it and caramelize the crust during the baking cycle. This evokes the fullness of flavor from the wheat beyond any other fermenting method I've encountered.
I patted it into an 8x6 inch rectangle and cut into bread stick shapes.
I preheated the oven to 550F. I've never cooked anything at this high degree. I placed a bowl full of water in the oven for steam. Apparently the steam and the high heat helps to create a fabulous crust on the outside, it is chewy and crunchy and oh so tasty! After baking for a few minutes at 550 I sprayed water on the side of the oven for added steam and turned down the oven to 450 for 20 minutes. Wow. Wonderful numminess.
I don't know how unbleached bread flour, salt, yeast and water can taste so good. It makes no sense. Let me rephrase that 'it makes no sense, to me'.
Somehow this bread tastes sweet and nutty, has a wonderful crust that is chewy but not dry, the crumb is light and airy and just wowowowowow.
I may have to make these for my UMTR board meeting next week to go with the pasta I am bringing.
OK, I will not post another food until Tuesday for Double Crust Blueberry Pie. I promise :)
Oh, I have 3 dozen double-chocolate icebox cookies to bring to Tyler's baseball game tonight. The boys love when I bring them home cooked treats!