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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Make French Bread with Madelaine

Click the photos for full-view.

I made this using my own modified version of a recipe from King Arthur Flour. Feel free to follow their version or mine. It has differences, but they're not drastically different.

make this the night before - can easily be done right before bed
1 ½ Cups White Bread Flour (or All Purpose Flour)
½ tsp. Active Dry Yeast (or instant yeast)
1 Cup Warm Water (around 100°F)

Place flour in a large bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Pour water in and mix together until creamy (it won't be dough, more like a thick batter). Cover with plastic and let sit out overnight.

1 Cup Warm Water (around 100°F)
¾ tsp. Active Dry Yeast (or ½ tsp. Instant Yeast)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
3 Cups Bread Flour (or All Purpose)
1 tsp. Salt

Add yeast, sugar and water to the starter (which will be puffy and bubbly) and mix. Add flour and salt (be sure to mix the salt with the flour a bit - as salt will kill yeast if mixes directly with it) and roughly mix. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Pour the dough (and extra flour left over in the bowl) onto your counter and knead together. This should take about ten minutes. Add a bit more flour if it's too sticky, or a bit of water if it's too dry. It should be smooth and elastic. Place in a very well-greased bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled - this can very greatly on the temperature of the room it's in.

After the dough has doubled, very gently remove it from the bowl and degas a bit (don't flatten or punch all the gas out), you don't half to actually do anything, as removing and cutting it will remove a good bit of the bubbles. Cut in half, and very gently form each into a loaf. Do this by pushing the sides around and to the back of the loaf and pinching or pressing very firmly together to make a seam. Place the loaf gently on a piece of parchment. Repeat for other loaf.

Put the loaves in a couche. You can make your own couche using a piece of fabric and some boxes (like little boxes of macaroni or crackers). Place the parchment on the cloth and push up the edges of the cloth and hold them there with on box on either side. Repeat for the other loaf. This will help the loaves rise up and not out - resulting in a loaf that has height and is not flat.

Let rise again until puffy, but not quite doubled. Slash top of loaves with razor blade (yes, it has to be that sharp) and dust with flour. Slide onto a cookie sheet (I put two loaves on one large airbake sheet) or baking stone. Bake in a preheated 475°F oven for 15 minutes, steaming four or five times. Reduce heat to 425° and bake for 20-30 minutes or until down (rich golden brown with an un-soggy bottom).

STEAM AT YOUR OWN RISK. To steam, pour hot water into an empty metal pan in the bottom of the oven or use a clean spray bottle with water to mist the oven. Be very careful not to hit the light bulb, the door or anything else that is glass - hot glass will shatter if any water hits it. Close the door immediately. Steaming is not recommended for some modern ovens, as steam can get into the electronics and mess up your oven. I have a modern oven and have been risking it, and nothing has gone wrong yet, just be careful. An alternative to steaming your oven is to spray your loaves with a bit of water (from a water spritzer) right before putting them in the oven. It won't have the same effect, but it will help.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book Cover!

I got a little notice in the mail a few days ago saying I had a package to sign for from Montréal. Not knowing anyone in Montréal, I was rather confused. It wasn't until I opened the package that I figured out who it was from: Marchand de Feuilles

And the bow I got was filled with these books! I am pleased to show off that I am now on a book cover. :D

I am not at all close to being fluent in French (I can read written French somewhat, and understand pretty much nothing when it's spoken), so it's pretty much impossible for me to read this. I am trying, though (it's pathetic, really)!

I am still glowing with excitement.

Also, the same piece that was on the book cover was featured on this blog. It has lots of interesting things to say about my image that you probably didn't know.

And now, your moment of zen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tagged and Front Page Madness!

I was tagged by the lovely Heidi, so now I have to tell you 7 random or strange things about myself.

1. I'm extremely sensitive (perhaps allergic?) to coffee (but I can drink caffeine just fine). Coffee makes me feel shaky, sick and very nervous.

2. I have a fear of fish out of water.

3. I make one loaf of bread by hand (no mixer) every day (occasionally not a loaf, like buns or cinnamon buns instead) and am extremely passionate about bread making.

4. I take photos with my left eye because it's the only eye I can keep open with the other closed.

5. My most popular images were created when I was 15.

6. In two weeks, it is our (my boyfriend and myself) one-year anniversary.

7. Giraffes are my favourite animals.

Okay, since I don't really know any other bloggers, I'm just going to tag the first five people who read this. Haha. Post a link to your finished tagged thing to the comments.

Also, I was on the front page twice today. I cannot believe how lucky I am. Usually I am about as unlucky as a person can get, but not today. It resulted in a bunch of messages (enquiries!) and sales. Yay! It was so exciting and awesome, I just have to show off again. :D

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Front Page - twice!

I made the front page twice recently! I'm very excited. Today, my very popular self-portrait, how i got my stutter, was featured on the front page. This beautiful treasury was created by an amazing painter, Julie Beck. It features twelve artists and their self-portraits. I think it's great in both idea and execution, and was on the front page for about an hour! To the left is one of my favourites by Julie, The Land.

Here is the other treasury that was featured on the front page recently (March 31st), by Spongetta. I love all the colour in this treasury, and once again, you can see my print featured on the bottom corner.

Be sure to check out her shop!