How I Learned to Make Mouthwatering Bread

If there was one food I could not do without, it would be bread. Give me some wine, cheese and bread and I’m happy. I’ve alway wanted to bake bread, but my results have always been lacking.  I don’t mean those soft wonder bread types. I  want want  big crusty european kind of breads like a crusty french baquette or a big round pain de campagne (country bread).

Years ago I experimented with Julia Childs recipe for french baquette in her classic book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.  I even bought some scrap tin to make special molds to bake the bread in. The results were just so-so.

To make really great crusty bread you have to have a super hot oven. Most home ovens top out at around 500 degrees, while commercial ovens can reach 1000 degrees or more.  If you wanted great bread you had to go to a bakery or restaurant.

I remember reading an article few years back in the New York Times about a baker named Jim Lahey who came out with a revolutionary way of baking bread that took no more than 5 minutes to knead and resulted in a crusty bread that could be done at home. He wrote a book called “My Bread” that showed home cooks how to make crusty European style breads that takes hardly any effort, 5 minutes worth of work and presto-phenomenal bread.

For the past few weeks I’ve been working my way through the book using the no-knead recipe with amazing results. Mouthwatering, crusty bread. I’m hooked. Never again will I buy store bought bread.

Here’s  a picture of this delicious bread hot out of the oven.

The only problem I have is I’m baking so much bread I can’t gobble it up before it goes stale. A  huge advantage in most European breads is their long fermentation process which give the bread several extra days shelf life. In fact, this bread will taste better the second day. The bread develops a tangy taste. I’m learning all kinds of ways to use stale bread. Lip smacking crunchy croutons that make those store bought  stuff taste like sawdust. Using breadcrumbs in place of Parmesan cheese in salads and pasta dishes,  a great low fat alternative and surprisingly good. One of my favorite ways to use stale bread is when I’m making my rustic french onion soup by putting a few slices in the bottom of the bowl and pouring the soup on top. Oo la la!

My ultimate way to use stale bread is in just about my favorite dessert-bread pudding! Love the stuff. Made a batch last night and ate two  whole bowls. I was in bread heaven.

Scrumptious bread pudding

“Bread is the king of the table and all else is merely the court that surrounds the king. The countries are the soup, the meat, the vegetables, the salad but bread is king.”
Louis Bromfield, American novelist  (1896-1956)

One Response to “How I Learned to Make Mouthwatering Bread”

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