Monday, April 21, 2008
Is there anything more wonderful than a fresh baked baguette? I don't think so. Hundreds of years of tradition come together in the baker's use of water, flour, yeast and salt. Rich, sweet, almost nutty in its flavor, with monster holes and a cracking crisp crust, nothing beats fresh bread with a little bit of sweet cream butter.
I've been baking bread at home for about three years now and tried tons of different recipes and approaches to making bread, but the Pain a l'Ancienne pictured here breaks every rule in the book.
"Yeast needs warm water to thrive, right?" Wrong. This bread uses nothing but ice cold water. "But it has to rise in a warm area. That I know is true." Nope. Straight into the fridge with this stuff. And it doesn't even get a normal rise in any sense of the word. And it's a huge pain the butt to work with. It's wet, and sticky, and oozes every which way. And yet...
And yet the bread is amazing. The best French baguettes I've ever made, by far. I even love the goofy, rustic shape.
Honestly, do we really need another metaphor for the fact that just because something is difficult doesn't mean it's not worth it? I didn't think so.
Oh, the Pain a l'Ancienne comes from Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice." Great book with amazing photography by Ron Manville.