I picked up a new book on bread baking…

Yes, another one…

Baking, yes…

I did let you know baking is one of those addictio…passions of mine, didn’t I?  Well, it is.  I’m no master baker, no way I want to be one either.  But I do want to be a damned good baker, and unfortunately I want master baker, artisan (bleh I hate what that word has become) quality bread from the oven.  And where I live, I have to be the one that does it.  I’m outside of 20 plus miles from the nearest baker and I don’t plan on firing the car up to get some bread for breakfast.

I make a pretty decent loaf as is and can fool most of the Central Illinois white bread aficionados out there, but I want to make European style hard rolls, long breads, farmhouse breads, when I want them.  I’ve been close but never close enough to satisfy my taste.

I think I may have hit on it tonight and discovered that one extra key element I’d been missing all these year:  Temperature control of the dough.  Never let it get above 75 degrees from beginning to baking.  You have to control oxidation, it seems.

You’ve got to do each piece to perfect the loaf.

  1. Quality ingredients (really good flour, water and salt) in the absolutely right proportions (weigh, weigh, weigh)
  2. Time (lots of it for the right fermentation).
  3. Mixing (speed, power, and gentleness)
  4. Dough temperature (between 45 and 75 – I kept my at 60 with an ice bath through mixing and proofing)
  5. Hot, steamy oven (500 degrees and pan for steam)

If you do each of these,  I can personally guarantee to you that you WILL make a perfect loaf.