While many people were undoubtedly busy baking cookies and pies on Christmas, this year, I decided to bake bread. It was my first time, but with my love of a good loaf, my trusty Le Creuset (Alan calls it the iPot since it’s so fancy shmancy, haha), and this awesome recipe, I baked two perfect loaves. The first was a test loaf because even though this recipe has gotten rave reviews, I was a bit wary that it might actually be trickier than it seemed. Aside from a bit of planning around the long rise (about 20 hours), it was so easy to make. And the taste… oh, the taste. It had a perfect crust– crispy, slightly chewy, substantial, but definitely not too tough– and a super moist interior with an open irregular crumb structure. (Note: crumb is a term that bakers use to define the inside/holey-ness of the bread. I learned this after this baking experience and am tucking this tidbit away for the next cocktail party I go to — being the life of the party takes a lot of work! 😉
This bread starts out like the ugly duckling. When I first mixed the ingredients together, I looked in the bowl and was sure I did something wrong. It looked like a big mess, but sure enough, 20 hours later (I had aimed for just 18, but got carried away with holiday fun) it had turned into a nice dough.
We devoured the entire first loaf with just a bit of butter and some salami — you know, just to make sure it was Christmas-dinner worthy :). I made the next loaf on Christmas morning, and after I pulled it out of the oven, I stuck my face in close and just inhaled. The smell of fresh baked bread is something else.