I like bread. Now this is a very plain boring statement.
I like good bread. Sounds better. But what makes good bread?
I like the fragrance of fresh bread out of the oven, which reminds me of memories walking by bakeries.
I like rustic looking bread.
I needed to make my own bread.
If I still lived in France, there would not be a good reason -maybe- for this post. There would not be any good reason for me to go through the trouble of making my own bread, except for that silly pride that pushes me to want to cook certain dishes and say I made it ( C’est moi qui l’ai fait!). I think I can be a bit obsessive about this but never mind, the point is that I enjoy the whole process: Making, Smelling, Tasting.
In France, you find bakeries lined up the ones next to the others. Some are specialized and/or known for des spécialités. In Paris, Pain Poilâne on rue du Cherche Midi is a famous bakery, known for its old-fashioned baking. And to my surprise, I recently discovered that you could order Pain Poilâne on line. Now this I am afraid I find c’est un peu pousser le bouchon (it is a bit over the top). Why would you need to order bread? It is not like there is a shortage of good bakers. In Paris and generally everywhere in France, getting good bread is really an easy piece of
Here in the USA, the story is slightly different. In Boston, there are a few good bakeries. I like HiRise, Sel de la terre the restaurant with its own boulangerie and Formaggio’s where they sell breads from different sources, including Pain Poilâne! True! Now to me, this is pousser le bouchon un peu trop loin (really over the top). I mean, that is saying that the bread is going to sit in a plane for a minimum of 7 hours, not counting the time spent to package it, load and unload it, then have it transferred to Formaggio’s before being placed on the shelves ready to be sold. Isn’t the whole point of eating a bread like Pain Poilâne to have it 200% fresh?
My bread discovery
I needed to find a good way to fulfill my crave for good breads, whose smells I missed so much. I was well decided not to fall in the trap to go to Formaggio’s to buy Pain Poilâne and so one day, following a good friend’s advice, I decided to make a good purchase.
I now own a bread machine. Quelle horreur! Am I saying I do not make my own bread working the dough with my 2 hands? I occasionnally do this, but I have to admit that having a bread machine is like creating a green house for your dough. You are creating the perfect environment for your dough to rise. That been said, I use the bread machine to mix the ingredients and rise the dough, then I have the dough rise again at room temperature before shaping it in the form I like before the final step, that is cook it in the oven (450F).
My bread machine:
Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme™ Bread Machine
Advantages: You can use the delay timer feature to start a dough if you are out. You have a perfect warm environment for your dough to rise
Disadvantage: It takes space on my kitchen countertop but this is minor.
I highly recommend this item. Maybe you have a gift certificate that needs to find a home? No need to add that I never regretted this purchase as I use the machine at least 3 times a week.
My Bread Machine book :
Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook
To rise the dough, I use La Cloche Brick Oven, which is just perfect to give nice brown crusts.
Amongst the breads I made, there are:
- Baguettes (eh oui, que voulez-vous, je suis française!, I am French, cannot help it!)
- Rustic Italian bread
- Three grain bread
- Hawaian sweet loaf
- Walnut bread
- Pizza dough
- Whole wheat bread
The bread presented here is the Pane Italiano, easy to translate! 😉
One of the things I love about this purchase is that I can have bread ready when I want, without needing to go to the bakery across town (get in my car, fight with Boston drivers grgrgr, park the car if I am lucky to find a spot, get the bread after waiting in line, get in traffic again before getting home, transformed into a grumpy creature). When the bread cooks in the oven, it just fills the house with a scent that cannot be described unless experienced.
Nothing beats dipping a fresh slice of homemade bread in a fragrant sauce, non? A real ultimate pleasure. Just delicious!
Are you tempted yet?
Ah and yes, when I was 17, I worked in Italy in Salò, Lago di Garda as a fille de cuisine on a youngster summer camp (see, always in the kitchen!). I had been nicknamed Miss Panini (because I was placing bread orders and getting the bread in the morning from the baker. To this day, I can still remember the smell!)