Bread baking is an Artisan Craft. Fresh baked bread is one of my most favorite things. I have many favorites. As a child, when asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would respond, like any child, with a long list of occupations. I’d usually say a bread baker and a prima ballerina. “Baking in my Ballet Shoes” (could be the name of my next book) was my favorite thing to do. Literally. After the completion of my Master Baking Program, I even applied to some jobs in Los Angeles to bake part-time. I didn’t get hired. They, the potential employer, probably somehow knew I’d want to take too many pictures anyway. But I have been practicing on my own. While my bread certainly doesn’t compare to that of the bakeries in town, as I haven’t perfected my baking craft of course, my bread is delicious. Warm, crusty, chewy bread fresh out of the oven of my home kitchen slathered in French butter and the occasional Nutella or jam/jelly addition is a treat! Almost nothing better than.
My French friend Joe calls me up. He is helping with a garage sale. Knowing me, he says I should come. He is right. He introduces me to his French friend Helen. She is the host of the garage sale, owner of most items in the sale and needs to get rid of everything or as much as possible before moving back to France. At the time Helen didn’t have a job and couldn’t get work in her field of interest. She has a job now that she loves and has a home base here in the States here in Los Angeles. I am glad I met her. She is cool. And I purchased some cool things at her sale. Japanese stairs and terracotta pots. I haven’t ever used a terracotta pots in cooking. This I have only seen them in India cooking on the Food Network. Pinterest is great resource. Type “Baking in Clay Pots” in the search. This is a thing. I had no idea. Baking in Flower pots. is the first to pop up. Cooking in Tangines the next. After reviewing several recipes on Pinterest, I pull out recipes for bread from my Master Baking Program, I decide to try with French Country Loaf. My twist is to layer and sprinkle between each layer with cinnamon and sugar. Generously.
There are many benefits to cooking in terracotta clay posts. First introduced in the United States seems to be unclear. Cooking in pottery however has been around seemingly since the beginning of time. Many cultures cook in clay pots and not all pots are all the same; however, the benefits are the same. Moisture retention in foods and PH balance offers more flavorful cuisine and as a result prove to be more satisfying. Today, I test bread baking in the Romertopf.
The recipe below I use All purpose flour. Otherwise it was that or cake flour, buckwheat flour, coconut flour, semolina or tapioca.. seems I have almost every except bread flour. While, I consider mixing several flours together, I choose the AP. I have also made the recipe below so I recommend trying first and then play around like I did. I also brushed the outside of my bread with egg wash and the terracotta is used in place of the pizza stone.
Pain de Menage (Country Bread)
Yields 4-5 loaves (if you decide to break up into small flower pots)
Flour, bread 1 1/2lb, Yeast, dry (envelopes) or fresh (cake) 3 1/2t, Water, warm (about 80-90 degrees) 1 3/4cups, salt (kosher sea salt) 1 1/2 t
- Proof the yeast
- Place 81/2 cups of the flour and salt in a bowl to fit. Make a well in the center. When the yeast has proofed, poour the water into the well and gradually incorporate the flour, and making the dough.
- If all the water has been added and the dough is still sticky, gradually add more flour. If the dough is too dry, add more water. Make sure the water is warm, but not too much to the touch.
- Once the dough has been formed, turn it onto the work surface and knead the dough until smooth. The dough should be satiny and resilient.
- Continue kneading the dough until small bubble appear and the surface and the dough springs back when touched.
- Place the dough into a oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and the it rise in warm place until double the volume.
- Once it has double in size, punch it down. Cover it, and let it rise again. The more times you let it rise, the lighter the dough will be, with larger air holes.
- Line an oven with baking tile or pizza stone and pre-heat 425-450 degrees.
- Shape the dough into baguettes per demo and stipple with a razor blade.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until bread is golden. A hallow sound when tapped indicates the bread is done. Cool on wire racks.
..While cinnamon and sugar are two of my most favorite ingredients, I will bake this recipe without those ingredients next time. More multi-purpose bread. The bread was very good and makes especially delicious bread pudding. Whether you choose to bake the recipe above or and try a version of it, I hope you have been inspired to bake! And perhaps in a clay pot! Happy baking! Happy eating!
Until next time…