Stepping Back in Time to the 17th century (BBB September 2014)

go directly to the recipe

BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Robert May’s French Bread, based on Elizabeth David’s adaptation of a 17th century recipe; trying again with the stainless steel mixing bowl as a steam chamber; a Bread Baking Babes project; submission for YeastSpotting; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB) September 2014

Always adventurous, the BBBabes are time travelling this month….

Rob't. May's French bread Ilva is this month’s mastermind and decided to send us back to the 1600s.

To make French Bread the best way.
 
Take a gallon of fine flour, and a pint of good new ale barm or yeast, and put it to the flour, with the whites of six new laid eggs well beaten in a dish, and mixt with the barm in the middle of the flour, also three spoonfuls of fine salt; then warm some milk and fair water, and put to it, and make it up pretty stiff, being well wrought and worked up, cover it in a boul or tray with a warm cloth till your oven be hot; then make it up either in rouls, or fashion it in little wooden dishes and bake it, being baked in a quick oven, chip it hot.
 
Robert May, The Accomplisht Cook, or, The Whole Art and Mystery of Cookery, fitted for all Degrees and Qualities, Section IX: Baking, (1685 edition), p. 240

Robert May (1588 – c.1664) was an English cook for various aristocratic families of the English aristocracy. He was trained by his father and then sent to Paris, by the Lady of the House where his father worked, to train as a chef.

First published in 1660 and reprinted at least 5 times during the author’s lifetime, “The Accomplisht Cook” is considered by many to be the first major recipe book published in England, being written by a professional cook when most recipe books at that time were household collections written by amateur cooks.

Luckily for us, Ilva didn’t insist that we build wood fired ovens and create our own ale barms (although I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t at least one intrepid BBBabe who did just that…).

Instead, Ilva pointed us to Elizabeth David’s adaptation of “French bread the best way” outlined in her book, English Bread and Yeast Cookery, first published in 1977, so we could use an updated version of the recipe.

And then Ilva added one more twist so the bread wouldn’t be too simple. Of course she did. :-)

I want you to use your creativity and decorate [the bread] on top. […] You can use dough, herbs, nuts (Or why not combined?) or anything that comes to mind.
 
-Ilva, message to BBBabes about September 2014 bread

And in spite of my several missteps (can I read yet???), what wonderful bread it is!!

One of the missteps was to continue my experimentation with using Lionel Vatinet’s (A Passion for Bread) stainless steel bowl as a hat in the first 10 minutes of cooking trick to create steam. And it turns out that if the stainless steel bowl is placed over bread baking on a stone, it works brilliantly!

A little too brilliantly…

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I really should start at the beginning, don’t you think?

BBB Robert May’s French Bread diary:

10 August 2014 18:34 Eeeek!!! Decorating… the very thing that messed me up with last month’s polenta bread! (Remember? My spirals in that bread look like they were made by wolves….)

Otherwise, what excellent choice Ilva has made! I love that this is such an ancient recipe.

6 September 2014 I imagined that because this was such an old recipe – and a French one to boot, it would be simply flour, leavening, salt and water. But I just read the ingredients list and saw egg whites.

Egg whites?! What am I going to do with the yolks?

Hollandaise sauce springs to mind. But the weather is still very unstable today (we had brilliant – literally – thunder storms last night. Lightning bolts repeatedly lit up the night sky for almost an hour). So Hollandaise sauce is out of the question for today.

The recipe also calls for fresh yeast. I know that I can substitute with dry yeast but in the spirit of putting off for tomorrow what might just as well be done today, I will spring for fresh yeast today and make the bread tomorrow.

I have no idea why fresh yeast is so difficult to find here. Nor do I know why it’s so expensive in comparison to dry yeast. Well, I do, of course. It’s because there’s only one store selling it and they can charge us whatever they want.

But wait, there’s still that problem of what to do with the yolks. I know! I saw some Ontario baby artichokes at the store – I’ll get some of those so we can have our cake and eat it too. Artichokes with Hollandaise sauce… mmmmmmm.

8 September 2014, 06:13 Oh oh. I remembered to get artichokes yesterday (I can’t stop thinking about Hollandaise) but I didn’t remember to get fresh yeast. Phoooey! I’ll have to use dry yeast. There ARE formulas in the various books in the kitchen and on several pages of the internet. But I decided to use our nifty javascript yeast measurement converter. Because it always makes me laugh.

It says I should use anywhere between 2.4 and 9.75 gms.

I’m going to split the difference and use somewhere in between. I hope I’ve guessed right…. :lalala:

But hmmmm… maybe I have time to race down to the deli to get fresh yeast after all. I wonder what time they open.

But (waffle waffle waffle) I DO like using my calculator too. And it’s good to get a second opinion. I just happen to have Maggie Glezer’s “Artisan Baking Across America” on the desk here – WHAT is it doing here rather than on the book shelf??? :stomp: Somebody is going to have to speak to the girl who cleans (Errmmm. That’s me, isn’t it?) – and Glezer writes:

There is no reason not to switch from one type of yeast to another as long as you account for the different activity levels.
 
-Maggie Glezer, “Artisan Baking Across America”, p. 8

Glezer goes on to recommend the following for “an active fermentation in doughs without sugar”:

for every cup of flour [150 grams] in the recipe, use either of
 
3 grams compressed fresh yeast
2 grams active dry yeast
1 gram instant active dry yeast

So, for Robert May’s bread, that means… (getting out my calculator click clickclick) 6.666666 grams of active dry yeast. Oooh, that number seems a little bit ominous. I’ll go back and combine that with my nifty javascript converter result and round it down to use 6 grams. Or should I use lucky 7?? No. Enough frivolity. 6 grams it will be.

Now. On to the liquid:

2 egg whites
280-340 g/ 0,5 pint to 12 oz water and milk,preferably 3/4 water and 1/4 milk
 
-BBB September 2014 recipe

I don’t know why I’m surprised that the liquid amount is variable. I really don’t (getting out my calculator again click click.click clickclickclick). A quarter of 280 is a nice even number, 70. I’ll use 70 grams of milk and start with 210 grams of water. Maybe I’ll add 60 grams more; maybe I won’t. I’m guessing not because the farm eggs we’ve been getting are quite large.

And onto the salt:

15 g/ 0,5 oz salt
 
-BBB September 2014 recipe

15 grams of salt for 500 grams of flour. Does that sound like a lot too you? (Let me grab my calculator again click click click click.) Yes! It’s 3%. That seems rather high.

Typically the amount of salt in a dough is between 1.8 and 2 percent of the amount of flour, by weight. If there is a large proportion of other ingredients, such as seeds, for which salt also enhances flavor, the percentage of salt could be a little higher.
 
-Susan, Wild Yeast, Worth Its Salt

That’s it. I’m reducing the salt! I’ll use 2%: 10gm

Boy!! For such a simple recipe, this sure is getting more and more complicated! But I think I’m finally ready to venture into the kitchen. Wish me luck!

13:32 Mixing the dough went fairly smoothly. Ish.

I can never remember if it’s easier to separate eggs when they’re cold or when they’re at room temperature. Ah, yet another reason to love the internet:

Note that chilled eggs are easier to separate (the yolk doesn’t break as easily), but most recipes call for working with eggs at room temperature. So, you either let your eggs get to room temperature before separating them, in which case you’ll need to be a bit more careful with the egg yolks, or let the eggs get to room temperature after you’ve separated them, in which case you should cover them in their bowl with plastic wrap and use them as soon as they get to room temp.
 
– Elise, Simply Recipes, How to Separate Eggs

Yet even with cold eggs, I had a little trouble separating the eggs and managed to break one of the yolks. Of course I did! But I told myself that because I wasn’t making meringue, everything would be fine.

I got out the scale (have I mentioned how much I love measuring?) and happily weighed out all the ingredients, including the salt, which I put into the lid of the mixing bowl. So I wouldn’t forget to put it in.

Ha. You think that was foreshadowing, didn’t you? Well, nyah, nyah. I remembered to put in the salt. So there.

Here’s what I didn’t remember to do: I was so busy with my brilliant measuring that when I weighed the yeast, I decided that 6 grams looked like too much. So I got out the measuring spoons to see that it was roughly 2 tsp. That’s too much! I spooned 1.5 tsp onto the scale to see that that was 5 grams. That seemed more reasonable.

And then rather than putting that yeast into only a small amount of the milk/water mixture, I dumped it all in at once. Of course I did. :stomp:

I did pay attention to Ilva when she said not to dump all the liquid in at once. I really did. I was so proud of myself for noticing that part in the instructions that I didn’t manage to notice that I was supposed to put the yeast into only a small amount of the liquid and THEN add the rest gradually.

Sigh… baby steps. Baby steps (no pun intended).

egg whites I pretended that I hadn’t noticed my mistake and began to whisk the egg whites til they were foamy. Naturally, because this is French bread, I used the French whisk. I LOVE that French whisk.

In no time at all the whites were brilliantly foamy. I dumped them in, stirring everything with a wooden spoon. It was a bit dry so I added 20 grams more water to gather up the flour that was still lurking at the bottom of the bowl.

I dumped the salt overtop (see? I DIDN’T forget…) and then using my hands, kneaded the dough in the bowl.

Once it was kneaded, I DIDN’T wash the bowl (don’t tell the other BBBabes; they might faint) and simply put the lid on and stuck it into the oven (without even the light turned on) to rise.

To atone for not washing the bowl, I washed the big kitchen window instead. And the floor.

After washing the floor, carrying the mop, I put footprints across it to check on the dough. It is beautifully smooth. But it still hasn’t really moved much. (Please note that I covered my tracks with the wet mop.)

Leave to rise until spongy and light. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour.
 
-BBB September 2014 recipe

I wonder if I should panic. It’s been at least 3 hours since I kneaded.

13:54 commons.wikimedia.org: Fleur de Lis; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 I’ve been thinking about the extra part that Ilva assigned to us. Because this is French bread, I’m going to try to decorate it with a fleur-de-lis pattern (commons.wikimedia.org: Fleur de Lis; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0).

16:34 Yay! It’s ready to shape! (I knew there was no reason to panic… :lalala: )

17:24 Well. So much for my fleur-de-lis idea. I thought I had cookie cutters that would work. But no. Not even remotely. So I went to plan B. I took a small part of the dough and rolled it out into a disc. Then I cut tiny diamonds out of it and after liberally wetting the shaped loaf with water, laid the disc on top. Then I wet the result with water and put the tiny diamonds on top of that. Here’s hoping that as the bread rises, my design doesn’t disappear altogether….

Suddenly, I find myself back in panic mode.

18:23 The design is still there!! The design is still there!!

milkwash To celebrate, I’ve decided to put a milk wash on so the crust will shine.

The oven is preheating and maybe, just maybe the design will stay on during the baking. Wouldn’t that be cool! (I haven’t decided if I should stop panicking though.)

18:49 I’m just about to go and remove the stainless steel hat. My fingers are crossed that there has been major oven spring (not panicking very much at all now. Really, I’m not).

19:01 Shriek!!! Why oh why did I relax? I KNEW there was a reason to panic! The rim of the bowl was stuck fast to the milk that had dribbled off the crust. Who knew that it was necessary to oil the rim and inside of the hat??

disaster

Feeling a bit like a chicken with its head pulled off, with increasingly louder wailing, I closed the oven door, skittered over to the knife rack, skittered back to open the oven door and attempted to pry the bowl off of the paper, closed the oven door, skittered over to the counter to get the pot holders, skittered back, opened the oven door, realized THAT wouldn’t help at all, closed the oven door, skittered over to where the peel was hanging on its hook on the wall, struggled with the rope that had somehow twisted around the wall hook to finally release the peel, skittered back to the oven, opened the door, pulled the partially cooked bread complete with stuck-fast parchment paper and stainless steel bowl hat out of the oven, closed the oven door, and with some difficulty pried the bowl away from the paper (my wailing now accompanied by shouting from T, who couldn’t see that a portion of the bread was stuck to the sides of the bowl, to “just tear the parchment paper away!!”)

As if it were the parchment paper I was wailing about…. :stomp:

To make matters worse, part of the design was stuck fast to the sides of the bowl.

Because, yes! Let’s play the Glad Game: there was oven spring!

Lionel Vatinet mentions in his book, A Passion For Bread, that it’s important to seal the bottom of the bowl to keep the steam trapped inside. Well. I certainly did create a very good seal. :stomp:

disasterUsing kitchen shears, I cut away part of the design to release the bread from its steel helmet. And finally, finally, put the uncovered bread back into the oven to finish baking. Most of it still looks good….

21:45 Here’s a tip. It’s probably unwise to bake bread inside at the same time as barbecuing a whole chicken in the back yard. At around 19:40, I came inside to rinse off the raw chicken plate and noticed that the front door was open. The screen door. Slightly ajar. And no furry black fiend that is NOT allowed outside in sight. I closed the door. I called.

I called louder. I ran up the stairs calling, looking in every room. I ran up to the third floor calling louder and there, lying curled up on a chair, was the creature, with his head up, looking miffed that I had awakened him from a pleasant dream. And as I was congratulating him for being such a good cat, the bell for the bread rang.

I ran down the stairs, got the peel and pulled out the most beautiful, chestnut brown, shiny, design-studded loaf. Except for that part that was pulled away. But let’s not talk about that.

The loaf is currently on a rack under a net umbrella cooling. We’re NOT cutting into until it has cooled. We’re going to try it tomorrow morning.

Wow!! If the inside is as good as the outside, this recipe is a keeper!

Rob't. May's French bread First thing the next morning (and yes… in case you’re wondering, the Hollandaise sauce and artichokes the evening before was fabulous!), we raced downstairs to slice the bread. And again admired its stunning looks (not the ripped side). And smelled it. And felt it. And tasted a little.

It’s really good. I’m amazed at how good it is.

We then toasted a couple of slices and sat on the front porch with our bowls of cafe au lait, eating buttered toast with crabapple jelly and basking in the coolish green of a stunningly beautiful early September day.

Wow! The bread is fabulous. Really fabulous. It’s going to make the best left-over barbecued chicken sandwiches!

And I’m particularly happy to report that 10gm salt (rather than 15gm called for) for 500 gm flour, is exactly the right amount of salt in the bread (for our taste).

Yes, indeed, what wonderful bread!! This is a keeper.

Thank you, Ilva!

Robt. May's French Bread

Here is the BBB September 2014 Robert May’s French Bread recipe. And here is what I did to it:

BBB Robert May’s French Bread
adapted from Elizabeth David’s version of the recipe in ‘English Bread and Yeast Cookery’

  • 2 egg whites (66 g)
  • 500 g (4 cups) flour ¹
       » 340 g unbleached all-purpose flour
       » 150 g 100% whole wheat flour
       » 10 g flax seeds, finely ground
  • 280-340 g (280-340 ml) liquid at ~96F ²
       » 70 g (70 ml) milk
       » 240gm (240ml) water, divided
  • 5 g (1.5 tsp) active dry yeast ³
  • 10 g (1.7 tsp) seasalt 4
  • milk, for brushing on shaped, risen bread
  1. egg whites: In the morning of the day you will be baking the bread, separate the eggs. Set the egg whites aside on the counter. Reserve the yolks for another time to use elsewhere. (You can use the yolks as a wash for the bread just before baking, but Hollandaise sauce is way more fun.)
  2. mixing the dough: Put flours and flax seed into a large bowl and whisk together. Realize days after you have made the bread that there was an instruction to “Warm flour and salt in a very tepid oven“. Be thrilled that THIS time it didn’t matter that this step was omitted.
  3. Heat the water until it is around 110F. Add the cold milk to 220 g water (reserve the rest of the water to use just in case). Check that the liquid is now about body temperature (put a drop or two on the inside of your wrist; if you feel nothing, it’s just right). Pour it into a smallish bowl and whisk in the yeast until it has dissolved. Pretend not to notice the instruction to “Pour in the yeast creamed in a little of the warmed milk and water mixture.“. Ignorance is bliss. Pour the yeasted liquid into the flour mixture and using a wooden spoon, stir together. If it seems too dry, add some of the reserved water.
  4. Remember to sprinkle the salt overtop. Use your hands to mix it in.
  5. Kneading Plunge in with your hands to turn and fold the dough in the bowl, kneading until it’s smooth (5 to 10 minutes). When the dough is smooth, decide to continue bad habits learned from bad BBBabes and skip the washing and drying the mixing bowl step (shhhh!! Don’t tell the other BBBabes that I said to do this). Simply cover the bowl with a plate to rest.
  6. After about 20 minutes, turn and fold the dough a few times. Notice that it is significantly smoother. Cover the bowl with a plate and set it aside in the oven with only the light turned on to rise until it has doubled. Don’t freak out that it takes considerably longer than the 45 minutes to an hour that the BBB recipe suggests.
  7. Shaping When the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a board very lightly dusted with flour. Cut away a very small part (about the size of a small orange) Shape the larger piece of dough into a boule and place it seam side down on a large piece of parchment paper. Run your hands under water and with wet hands, gently rub the top of the boule. Set aside for a moment.
  8. Immediately, roll out the smaller piece into a large thin disc. Add flour, if you need to, to keep the disc from sticking to the board. Use a small cookie cutter to cut out a design. Drape the perforated disc evenly over the boule. (Note that there should be little pieces of dough left on the board.) Once again, run your hands under water and with wet hands, gently rub the top of the boule. Now carefully pick up all the little cutouts and arrange them on top of the disc. Invert a large mixing bowl (making sure that it will easily clear the edges of the decorated boule. Set aside in a no-draft area (closed closet or oven with only the light turned on if it’s cold in the kitchen) until the bread has almost doubled (30 minutes to an hour).
  9. Preheat Put a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 400F.
  10. Baking Just before baking, brush the risen loaf gently with milk. Then, using a peel, put the risen loaf (parchment paper and all) onto the hot stone. Place the large stainless steel mixing bowl inverted over the loaf. Be smarter than me and grease the edges of the bowl so the loaf won’t stick to the sides. Bake for 10 minutes with the stainless steel hat on. (If you want even more steam, you could try spraying the inside of the bowl with water. I haven’t tried that yet but it seems like a good idea.)
  11. After 10 minutes of baking, remove the steel bowl (good luck!!). Turn the oven down to 375F and continue to bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes. If it seems to be getting too dark before the inside is done, turn the oven down to 350F. When the bread is done, the crust should be quite dark and the internal temperature should be somewhere between 200F and 210F (it will sound hollow if knocked on the bottom). Allow the baked bread to cool completely before cutting into it. It’s still baking inside! (Even if you’ve ignored the instructions about using hot water from the tap, please do not ignore this step.) 5

Notes:

1.) Flour The BBB recipe calls for “preferably a half-and-half mixture of unbleached white and wheatmeal”

2.) Milk and Water The BBB recipe suggests using three quarters water and one quarter milk. And yup. I’m going to say it again. I can’t help myself: please do not use water from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto your wrist: if it feels warm, it’s too warm; if it feels cool, it’s too cool; if it feels like nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

3.) Yeast The BBB recipe calls for fresh yeast. I was hoping to use that because it’s so pleasant to crumble it into the flour. I used active dry yeast instead, because that’s what we have on hand. We can buy fresh yeast at one of the delis, but it’s not cheap (not to mention that I forgot).


for every cup of flour [150 grams] in the recipe, use either of
 
3 grams compressed fresh yeast
2 grams active dry yeast
1 gram instant active dry yeast
 
-Maggie Glezer, “Artisan Baking Across America”, p. 8
Substitute twice as much (by weight) fresh yeast for the amount of dry yeast called for in the recipe.
 
-Daniel Leader, “Local Breads”
1 g fresh = 0.5 g active dry = 0.4 g instant
 
-Susan (Wild Yeast), wildyeastblog.com
2+1/2 tsp (one package) active dry yeast = 18 gm cake fresh yeast
 
-Carol Field, “The Italian Baker”

4.) Salt The BBB recipe calls for 15 g salt (according to Gourmet Sleuth, this is 2.5 tsp fine or 5.4 tsp (!!) kosher) salt). (For more information about measuring salt, please see Salt is salt, right?)

5.) But I LIKE warm bread just out of the oven!! N.B. Of course you will want to serve warm bread. Reheat it after it has cooled completely. (It is still baking when first out of the oven!) To reheat any UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 450F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.

Robt. May's French Bread

Bread Baking Babes

Ilva is the host of September 2014’s Bread Baking Babes’ challenge! She wrote:

I thought you might find it interesting to use a recipe (adapted by Elizabeth David) that was published 354 years ago. It is a pretty easy recipe, the only out of the ordinary about it is that you use eggwhites in it so I thought I would add a little challenge to make it more Babelike: I want you to use your creativity and decorate it on top. […] Anything that comes to mind as long as [it] can be used to make something figurative. I’m not sure if it is called like that in English but what I mean is that I would like to see the bread decorated with motifs like straws of wheat or maybe a horse or why not a flower?
 
-Ilva

Oh oh. The design was supposed to be figurative?

Okay… let’s pretend that my design was depicting an aristocratic quilted fabric. Yes. That’s it! It’s an heraldic quilt! :-)

We know you’ll want to make Robert May’s French Bread too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the bread in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 September 2014. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ September bread:

YeastSpotting
Yeastspotting - every Friday (wordle.net image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:

 

This entry was posted in baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes, whine on by .

* Thank you for visiting. Even though I may not get a chance to reply to you directly, I love seeing your comments and/or questions and read each and every one of them. Please note that your e-mail address will never be displayed by me. Also note that you do NOT have to sign in to Disqus to comment. Click in the "name" box and look for "I'd rather post as a guest" that appears at the bottom of the "Sign up with Disqus". After checking the box, you will be able to proceed with your comment.

"Comment Moderation" is in use. It may take a little time before your comment appears. Comments containing unsolicited advertising will be deleted as spam (which means any subsequent comments will be automatically relegated to the spam section and unlikely to be retrieved). Disqus comment area  wp-image-2332

  • Fresh yeast. Are you sure? I don’t think my recipe said fresh yeast. No, it didn’t. I used instant.
    The bowl took off the side of your loaf. I’d say that’s the perfect side to start slicing!
    Heraldic quilt … that’s perfect, proving once again that diamonds are a girls best friend.

    Hey!! Did you get a different version of the recipe, Tanna? The one I got definitely said “15 g/ 0,5 oz of yeast (fresh)”. I’m still a little sorry that I didn’t use fresh rather than active-dry. I love the way fresh yeast smells. -Elizabeth

  • barbara

    The torn part looks pretty tasty, although not as beautiful as the diamondy part. Thanks for another thrilling tale.

    Thank you for reading it, Barbara! There was a slightly (really slight) different flavour in the torn part because it didn’t have any of the caramelized diamonds. -Elizabeth

  • Wow! Such an intricate design. I love the motif. That’s too bad the steam bowl messed it up. No matter, it was a good bread with or without the design.

    Thank you, Cathy. I still wish that I’d managed to do the pattern with Fleur-de-Lis though. Although… imagine the screams when THOSE were ripped away by the steam bowl! :stomp: -Elizabeth

  • Only you, Elizabeth, only you… I’m very impressed by the decoration, marvellous! And I have started to use a steel bowl as well for the first half of the baking, it works wonders. (and just to let you know, I never ever wash my bowl in between risings…) Regarding the fresh yeast, it was my truly obnoxious inner child who made me leave out any other suggestions, why would I do that when you North Americans always write instant yeast and nothing else. Ha!

    I’m just glad that you didn’t make us use a new ale barm, Ilva! Now THAT would have been truly truly obnoxious. (I can’t bring myself to become a modern North American and still refuse to use instant yeast. Mum never used it; so I won’t use it….) Thanks again for a wonderful new (to us) bread recipe! It’s great to have our bread and Hollandaise too! -Elizabeth

  • o wow you’ve been decorating like a genius here!! Love it, just a shame that all your hard work disappeared a bit when rising/baking. That’s why I love those diamonds, they stand out so well.
    I saw somewhere on line a baker doing this rolled out and cut ‘lining’dough in a darker colour (with malt powder or cocoa), so it does’t disappear as much. Great ideas. Love how your loaf is so fluffy inside!

    Isn’t that always the way with designs, Lien? C’est la vie…. I think I saw that same baker’s bread and that’s where I got the idea. SoTHAT’S how the cover showed up so well! I didn’t realize it was coloured with cocoa or malt powder!. Next time. -Elizabeth

  • I love your diamond decoration – what a brilliant idea, and so pretty! And do you know what? Occasionally, I don’t rinse out my bowls. I do, however, still lift out the dough and give it a little coat of cooking spray before plopping my dough back in. ;) Beautiful results Elizabeth!

    Thank you, Heather. We were quite pleased. You sometimes rinse out your bowls? I thought I was the only one left who washed the bowl out! -Elizabeth

  • Why is a sultry voice going through my mind singing ‘A kiss on the hand may be quite continental….’
    Looks lovely (all sides)

    Hahaha! Thank you very much, Katie! Now I have an audio virus! :lalala: -Elizabeth

  • Well, your loaf is gorgeous, the texture just perfect and the design wow beautiful! But gosh do you overthink things! But, then again, you get excellent results. I also often rely on your complicated, time-consuming calculations, waiting for your results then I just do it. Yes, I cheat. Thanks to you. But for this I just did a straightforward fresh-to-dry yeast calculation and rounded down (I think). I did not whip the whites (see, I read Ilva’s other useful tips but missed this). And the bread is indeed fabulous! I also want to mention that you are also a bad influence on me as I now never let the dough to rise in a clean bowl.

    It really is fabulous bread, isn’t it? And how handy to learn that it is just as fabulous if the whites are left unwhisked (even though it is very satisfying to use a French whisk to foam egg whites).
     
    But, no no no, Jamie! It’s the other BBBabes who are the bad influences. Before they spoke their insidious words and worked their wily charms, I ALWAYS washed the rising bowl. Always.
     
    However, I do take full responsibility for my insane need to click away on the calculator. (But tell the truth; you secretly wish that you had used the nifty javascript yeast measurement converter. Don’t you? :-) )
     
    -Elizabeth