Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bread Art

Eleanor and Olivia getting creative with bread dough.
My daughter Eleanor and I invited our friend Olivia over to make homemade French bread during spring break but our baking project morphed into an art project when the girls decided they wanted to shape bread characters instead of loaves.

With just a bit of flour to keep the dough from sticking, a knife and some raisins for eyes and other features, the girls created the most adorable characters.
Eleanor's work in progress.

Olivia's creation just needs to rise for an hour before baking.
Bread art is definitely something we are going to have to tackle again. The soft dough was easy to shape and the the results were fun to eat. It is important though to keep an eye on your creations as they bake since the baking times will vary depending on size.
Eleanor's art.

Olivia's art.
This is Anpanman which is a popular character in Japan. Translated, the name means "Bean Bun Boy." Eleanor shaped him and brushed him with an egg wash right before baking to highlight his eyebrows, nose and cheeks.
 Anpanman didn't stay intact for too long. Warm homemade bread is just too delicious!
Here's my favorite recipe for French Bread:

French Bread
(makes 4 loaves)
2 packages yeast
2/3 cup tepid water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
7 cups bread flour (additional may be needed)
2 tablespoons rye or whole wheat flour
4 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups cold water
(cornmeal for sprinkling on sheet pan or parchment paper)

Combine yeast, sugar and tepid water. Let set for 5 minutes. Combine the remaining ingredients then add yeast mixture. Knead.

Let rise 40 to 60 minutes in a clean, dry bowl. Then deflate and punch into a 14-inch rectangle and fold into thirds.

Return dough to bowl and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough and shape into loaves, place them on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper and let them rise for an hour.

Use a sharp knife to slash the top of each loaf in three places and place the sheet pans in a preheated 450 degree oven. Toss in 1/4 cup of water and quickly close the door. The steam makes for a nice crust. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes and then bake an additional 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

A loaf of just-baked French bread.

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