Friday, February 29, 2008

Going to New Heights


I am not comfortable with heights. I don't like standing near the edge of a gorge, tall building, or bridge. I really didn't like the Grand Canyon. So why, a reasonable person might ask, did I choose to go sky-diving? For two reasons. One, so my fear wouldn't control me, and, two, so that I could say I did it. No matter what else I chickened out on in life, I could hold my head high and say I'd jumped out of an airplane on purpose.

Joining the Daring Bakers is kind of like that. It pushes me beyond my comfort zone, makes me do things I might be ordinarily too cowed to try, and I only have to do it once and then the rest of my life I can say I did it.

This month's challenge was quite a high altitude jump. Breadchick Mary (The Sour Dough) & Sara (I Like to Cook) gave the recipe of the month - French bread from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It took 15 pages to print out. Yikes! I read it over and over as I baked, my brain straining, hoping that I was doing it all OK.

It took all day, but that's because of the long rise times that develop the flavor in the dough. There were some tricky steps, the most tricky for me being transferring my risen loaves to the hot oven onto the hot baking stone. When I was approaching that step I shrieked, "Ah, how am I supposed to get these into the oven without a baker's peel?"

My adorable and handy husband dashed down to his workshop in the garage, took a piece of wood, shaped it, planed the edge and had it up to me in about 5 minutes. What a guy!

Transferring the bread to the oven worked out well as a two person job. I then used a squirt bottle to spray mist into the oven and tossed a couple of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven. Thankfully they avoided the heating element (angel watching over me), but I think next time I'll put a shallow metal pan on the bottom rack to toss the ice cubes into.

I was so excited to watch the bread rise and crust up nicely. Honestly, it's better than TV, watching a happy loaf of bread bake!

Definitely the hardest part of the recipe was letting the baked loaves cool for 2 hours. I want them now! But it was worth the wait. I got to hear the crust crackling (which is bread's way of saying, "I'm yummy. You will love me!") as it cooled and then we all got to saw off slices, slather them with butter, and slide into bread heaven.

Now you might think I've put that gold star on my chart and moved on, but my husband said a few days later, "Do you think you could make that bread again? It was really good." Well how could I refuse my sweet, woodworking husband? So I made it again, only this time trying the longer loaves. Still fun, still good. And easier, now that I had more of an idea what I was doing and which part of the directions applied. I know I'll make this recipe again and again, because, like skydiving, the scariest part is just before you jump. Once you jump, it's a rush!

Since I'm too lazy to type in all 15 pages (do you blame me?), you can go here to find and print out the whole recipe. If you're up for a great challenge, take it on. I think you won't be disappointed! Plus, you can always say you've done it.

Check out what other Daring Bakers have done with this challenge at the Daring Baker's Blogroll.

45 comments:

L Vanel said...

Great looking bread, Lynn! You know it was a success when people make special requests for it again.

Chelsea said...

Your loaves looks so much better than mine! I am jealous. I don't have a peel either so getting the bread in and out of the oven was rather tricky. Your beautiful loaves make me want to try again.

Melinda said...

They look wonderful. Your husband is quite the hero. A handmade peel in 15 minutes. I think that is worth a CBL post in itself!
I jumped out of the plane too. It is a nice French stick!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your loaves look great! They came out really well! Good job!

Cheers,

Rosa

Jerry said...

Jealous! They look so pretty!

Mandy said...

great job, Lynn. Your breads turn out really well.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh, eee gad Lynn, I don't know where to start. We must chat about sky diving. Once you jump and pull the cord (too noisey) then it's a rush!
Yes, your husband is a gem, I recommend keeping him! Lovely bread. The second time baking it is easier.

Gretchen Noelle said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that the first always seems the hardest, after that it is just fun baking. I too will make this over and over!

LyB said...

Those loaves are gorgeous! A 15 page recipe is way too intimidating for me at this point, I'm still only at the no-knead bread level! Really impressive, Lynn, and that photo of the longer loaves is wow!

I tagged you for a meme, hope you don't mind!
http://andthenidothedishes.blogspot.com/2008/02/meme-and-nice-bowl-of-soup.html

Brilynn said...

I hated waiting for the cooling too. As soon as I smell bread baking I want some immediately!

~Amber~ said...

Both of your loaves look awesome! I made the recipe twice also, but the second time is because I was sickened by my albino loaves and I wanted darker ones. :) On to the next challenge we go...

Melanie said...

Kudos to your husband for "whipping up" a baker's peel. That should be some extra credit component of the Daring Baker's. :) And your bread looked fantastic! Your willingness to give it a go a second time may just inspire me to do the same!

Cakespy said...

No way! Great work Lynn! Much better than anything I see at my local Metropolitan Market. Bread so nice, you made it twice! You go!

Nora B. said...

Fantastic that you have a handy husband around just in time to the rescue. I agree that transferring the bread was the trickiest part. Your loaves look great!! And I do love watching bread baking in the oven too :-) Does this make us bread geeks hee hee.

Carrie said...

Your bread looks wonderful... and what a nice story to go with it!

Anne said...

I'm always in awe how beautiful your bread turns out! Love the color and the crust is really awesome :)

Gigi said...

You should change your name to Bread Baker Lynn. Absolutely perfect-gorgeous-unbelievable bread!

Baking Soda said...

Love the crust on your breads! Fabulous! (Think this is a husband pleasing bread... bake one and they dash into their workshop to build you a pedestal -or bakers peel- :-D)

Aamena said...

an encore demand defines success! great job!

Breadchick said...

Lynn, your loaves look perfect and what a nice way to treat your husband for a wonderful homemade peel! A second making of the challenge

Thanks for baking with Sara and I

Half Baked said...

Your bread looks beautiful! So sweet to make it again for your hubs:) It was really good!

Sheltie Girl said...

Such beautiful loaves! Great job! Aren't husbands so wonderfully handy to have around? Mine helped me to put my loaves in the oven too. It was great to have the extra set of hands.

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Suzana said...

Beautiful bread, Lynn! Husbands are so 'useful', aren't they? hehehe

Megan said...

How could you say no after he made you a board. Plus it was fun after the fear.

Megan said...

How could you say no after he made you a board. Plus it was fun after the fear.

Joy said...

Wowzers - your husband sounds like the ideal man. I can barely get my boyfriend to change a lightbulb! Your bread looks perfect.

Peabody said...

That was super sweet of your hubby. My husband wouldn't even know what a bakers peel was. :)
Gorgeous bread.

Peabody said...

That was super sweet of your hubby. My husband wouldn't even know what a bakers peel was. :)
Gorgeous bread.

Jaime said...

great job - both times! :) so nice of your hubby to help you out in a pinch like that! wish i had had a better means to transfer the bread...

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Wow! I don't know if I am more impressed that you jumped out of an airplane or that you made this bread twice! It looks great!

Emiline said...

I know this isn't a competition, but if it was, you deserve a prize, because your bread is just about the best I've seen so far.

Sara said...

isn't it just the most wonderful bread? thanks for baking with us!

Kelly-Jane said...

I kniow what you mean about being puched out of your comfort zone, bread is way beyond my comfort zone! but the challenge is fun too.

Your bread looks great, and you did it twice too - you're a great DB =)

Anonymous said...

Very professional looking loaves and much cheaper than flying to Paris. Not that you can't do both . . . .
Patti

Jenny said...

Skydiving = baking french bread. Yep, I can see it. Glad you jumped right in!

Lesley said...

Sweet husband!
Your bread is great, such a good job.

Princess of the kitchen said...

your crust looks really exceptional. Good job on the challenge

Big Boys Oven said...

your bread looks so delicous and so beautiful!

Deborah said...

Your bread looks great!

Amy said...

Your loave are absolutely gorgeous! Your hubby sounds awesome! When I tossed my ice cubes into the pan, I threw it too hard and it bounced off the tray onto the oven floor. I was crossing my fingers that my oven wouldn't short circuit or something. It was a scary moment. But the bread was worth it. :)

Claire said...

What a wonderful hubby! Glad you've found a recipe that you both like and you have figured out. Your bread looks just fantastic.

Rose&Thorn said...

You always inspire me to want to make my own bread. I have not tried it yet, but as soon as I get over my "flip, another flop" stage, I am definitely going to try.

Andrea said...

I'd say you've got a great husband, a definite keeper! Your loaves really look wonderful!

Tartelette said...

Looks wonderful Lynn! Top notch...You make me crave it again!

Mary said...

Your husband is such a sweet guy to whip up a bakers' peel for you. I'm glad you liked the recipe enough to do a second time. I think your bread looks great.