Just got back from a work trip to Paris, and still swimming in the lovely memories of how magical it is there. Although work-wise it was an epic disaster, whenever I had moments of free time the beauties of Paris soothingly washed over me like lavender. The attractions like Eiffel Tower (Bastille Day there was sick!), Louvre and Versaille are all amazing, but I wouldn’t hate on some one who skipped it all to just take in the City of Lights from the seat at an outdoor cafe. The romance floats through the parisian air and the beauty of the language is undeniable. <Sigh> I’m hoping to keep some of that joy of simple pleasures with me. I plan to step up my cheese eating and picnic game…
Besides the ambiance, my favorite thing about France is….bread. Just plain bread. I tear into those chewy bitches like a turkey leg. If I wouldn’t die of malnutrition its all I’d eat. When we had the picnic, hunks of baguette with cheese, fruit and cured meat were the best meal (of a slew of great meals) I had this trip. I have a great bakery in the hood, but even though I landed a couple hours ago I decided I wanted to learn how to make these for my self. It seems simple enough. Flour, water, yeast. Voila. One trick I wanted to use I learned from our Paris guide, Nicholas. He said the best bread has big air pockets in it when you rip it open. This is apparently because the best bread makers allow ample time for the yeast to do its thing which creates that crunchy outside and chewy inner. Although the recipes online say to allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes or so, I’m going to let mine sit for at least 2 hours. In theory it only gets better the longer you let it rise. Another thing I’d heard was that the water you proof the yeast in should feel “neither hot nor cold” when dropped on your wrist. This seems really weird and I’m a little scared, but fuck it, we’ll do it live.
1 cup hot water in a large mixing bowl (microwave for 30 seconds or boil for equal and take off heat)
1 packet dry yeast.
Sprinkle yeast onto water and let sit for a bit. Wait until the yeast puffs up and is frothy. 10-20 minutes. *Right now my apartment is hotter than hell and humid, I feel like the environment affects the yeast, but we’ll see how this turns out*
1 cup flour
cap full olive oil
*Internet recipes call for dash sugar, but I don’t have any so we’ll see if that affects it…
After the yeast is good to go, add olive oil, dash of salt, and slowly add flour while stirring in a slow circular motion with a fork (think human bread hook). Once it gets pretty solid with strong, stringy bits on the outside, dump onto a flour dusted surface and knead until its a sturdy, smooth, Play-do like ball. Place in an oiled bowl and walk away. Leave it covered with a towel for at least 2 hours. They say “until doubled in size”, but first of all who the hell can tell if a ball of dough has doubled in size, and second of all I think the longer the yeast can go nuts the more flavor and pockets the bread will have. Again, we’ll see how this goes.
After it rises, throw it on a flour dusted surface and roll into a long, baguette shape. Preheat oven to 375, and cook loaf on a greased cooking sheet for 30-40 minutes or until the loaf is lightly golden. Every few minutes sprinkle with water for the first 15-20 minutes (this makes the crust extra crunchy). Let it cool, and marvel in your success.