I’m usually a fox type of a person – I like to know and do many things. The jobs I’ve enjoyed have been the ones that played to my fox tendencies – needing to know and do many things, no two days the same. And I’m like that with cooking too – I like to make new things, try new flavours and techniques but I’m not always great at repeating things to make sure I know them really well. But after a year or so of being a bread fox, I took a bit of a break and didn’t cook any bread at all for while.
Then a few weeks ago I decided I missed bread but this time I am just doing the same recipe over and over again. The same proportions of flour, yeast, salt and water, the same resting times, the same bread shape and I am discovering the joys of being a hedgehog. How slight differences of what I do changes the end result. Relearning how to slash the loaves so they blow up into a beautiful crust. And the results are going down well with the family.
500g bread flour
350g of water
Mix the flour, yeast and salt together. Add the water and mix together. Once it is in a ball, knead it for 5 to 10 minutes until it is smooth. The dough is quite wet but resist the temptation to add more water, it will get less sticky with kneading. Once it is smooth, leave it to rise for an hour.
After resting, cut the dough into 3 pieces of equal size (I weigh them, but that’s a bit obsessive) and form them into balls. Leave to rest for 15 minutes. Then shape into baguettes (what I have learnt during these weeks is that gentle firmness pays off when doing this) and leave to proof for another hour. Preheat the oven to 220 C.
When ready to cook, shake on some flour, then slash the loaves – about 3 slashes per loaf seems to work well at this size. Put in the oven and cook for 15 to 18 minutes. Stand back and admire the result and consider what small detail you varied this time.