Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First Loaves


Baking is so incredibly hot!! When I think about it, all my senses are aroused. Seeing, listening, touching, smelling and tasting. The time has come to finally bake off some bread. I’m baking in my little house with a very little oven, so I’ve decided to bake my first two loaves ensuring at least a gorgeous crust using Jim Lahey’s, baking in a pot technique. Though baking in covered pots has been around since the days of Apicius, he’s brought the idea into vogue recently.

It’s ironic that I am drawn to baking as my new medium. I was a terrible student because maybe I had such trouble focusing on reading and studying. As a cook/chef I did well, but as a baker I had to be very studious because I lose my concentration quite easily.


Since I am baking a pain levain I’m not sure what the results will be, I’d just be happy if my pain levain would rise and taste half way decent. After weeks of working on the starter I’m just happy to do something different.

I pre-heated the oven to 500 degrees with the pot in it and was so excited. I took the pot out of the oven and gently placed my loaf inside. I sprayed some water over the loaf, covered it and placed it back in the oven. No explanation in baking is simple, but simply put; water affects the gluten and creates a shiny crust.


After 30 minutes of baking you remove the lid and then continue baking it for another 30 or so minutes. As I lifted the cover, I stared at a real loaf of bread but in my ecstatic moment I realized that I had forgotten to score the top of the bread. Scoring the bread you allow the bread to have an escape route basically which results in a much better loaf of bread/ Luckily I had one more loaf to bake off so that mistake wasn’t the end of the world. I’m sure plenty more are in the horizon so I can’t get hooked up on this one.

When the bread was finished, I let it rest for an hour, which is important because the bread is still baking, I took a slice and I must admit that it was a thrilling moment. My bread was denser than I want it to be; yet the flavor was there. For my first loaf, it wasn’t a complete failure but I realized I have a long way to go. I opened a bottle of my favorite wine, a Condrieu from Andre Perret and spread some delicious raw butter on the bread and just savored the moment of this journey. It’s baby steps towards my goal and I’ve got a long way to go but I wasn’t discouraged. I anxiously look forward to next week when I go up north to the SF bay area and get to work with some of the best bakers going. Can’t wait.


2 Comments:

Blogger Ritu Harrison said...

Hi Lora, I've just found my way to your blog via 101cookbooks. While I have traveled a different path to arrive at this particular point, I'm also desiring to make a change, don't have the funds to make it happen all at once, and am seeking to start small, exactly the way you describe... first to friends and neighbors, then maybe a farmer's market, and then see where that takes me. The introduction to Jim Lahey's book was also great for me to read. Sort of empowering, you know: Bake bread and feed people. Sell to your neighbors, etc. So simple. Anyway, I am thrilled to be here. I've been experimenting with the no-knead method from My Bread over the last several weeks. My first loaves were the stecca, because I didn't have an appropriate pot to use for the other loaves. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a small Romertopf baker (2-3 pound), and began making the basic loaf. Initially I was using some yeast I had in the house (Rize yeast, from the natural food store), and one of the packages was compromised so I got really dense loaves -- but still delicious and with a beautiful crust. Since I tossed that packet, I am doing a bit better, but my loaves still seem a bit small. I wondered: what yeast are you using? Or are you using one of your starters? I've not attempted a starter yet. Gearing up for that next. I've had a slow start, but am blogging at plumparings.blogspot.com, where I've been cataloguing my CSA bounty and the cooking that it inspires. No camera at the moment, so light on photos -- hopefully soon. Best, Ritu

November 23, 2009 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Lora Z said...

Hi Ritu. I only use yeast for my pizza dough but when I do use yeast I use SAF yeast and buy it in one pound bags. It's the best but any fresh yeast will do, just check the date on the package. You can buy it online at wwww.kingarthurflour.com along with anything else you might need for your baking needs. Also, check out Lodge cast iron pots, they are very reasonably priced and give you great results.Good luck with your bread.

January 31, 2010 at 11:09 AM  

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