I have been 'reinsured' by reading the book, In Search of the Perfect Loaf - A Home Baker's Odyssey by Samuel Fromartz.
Unlike Fromartz, I didn't grow up eating bread with crisp, crunchy chewy crusts. I was a 'Wonder Bread' girl. We did have cornbread often, or homemade biscuits. And I will run you over to get a soft, hot, buttery yeast roll. But nothing like you would find in a real bakery in Europe or now, in the United States. It wasn't until I was in high school and went to Italy did I learn there was such a thing.
But Fromartz was in search of the perfect homemade baguette. As opportunity would have it, being a freelance journalist, he did manage to travel around Europe and the United States in search of the perfect technique for the perfect baguette (and other breads).
The book tells some of the history behind baguettes and the resurrection of them in France. There is a lot of the science behind bread making included, a bit more than my brain really wanted to take in. Descriptions of different grains and milling techniques are also delved into.
A couple of things stood out to me. One, even if you don't speak the national language, there is a language of bread making which is universal. Secondly, there is a minimal hands off approach to baguettes and bread in general. I learned a new 'kneading' technique' and realize this is basically what Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day teaches. Mix your water, flour and yeast then let it do it's on thing and then, with minimal handling, shape your loaf.
As you can see above, I was driven by the need for real bread by the book and created the loaf above. I also when and bought a small package of rye flour and raw honey to try my hand at a sourdough starter mentioned in the book. My starter is in a bowl in the closet with the water heater right now as it is suppose to be cold today and tomorrow and we don't really heat our apartment all that much.
Fromartz's book has me now on a quest to read more books on bread baking. And to purchase a bread stone for the oven, although my cast iron skillet, inverted, does a decent job. But it won't work for a long loaf of bread. And a scale and scraper.
Then yesterday morning I received this link in my email - one on How to Make Baguettes. The recipe used and the technique described is very, very similar to the one Fromartz describes in his book.
So now, more bread making and learning to leave it in the oven a tiny bit longer.