>From: Tom Thalmann <email@example.com>
>Date: Fri, 22 Mar 1996 00:09:24 -0800
>Subject: Good Crust
>A new bakery has just opened nearby. I am jealous of the great crust their
>bread has; they have a hard cursted french bread that is excellent. How do
>I get a crust like that? I've been baking bread on and off for twenty years
>(no bread machine). The key, I'm sure is in the oven.
>What type of oven is best? A good commercial oven would be great but within
>most folks budget.
before buying a new oven, try this:
go to your local cookware store and buy a "romertopf" clay cooking pot. it
comes in different sizes: i use the one big enough for a 4 pound chicken.
prepare your dough as usual, either by hand, mixer, or bread machine manual
cycle. let it rise til doubled. then punch down and make a loaf (remembering
to pinch the bottom shut) and put it on a sheet of baking parchment, leaving
enough extra on each side to let you lift it later. allow to rise again
while the loaf's rising, soak the clay pot in water for about fifteen
minutes, and preheat the oven. i usually heat mine to 375F. *gently* place
the now-risen loaf in the clay pot and bake for about a half hour. be sure
to make a few slices in the top.
after half an hour, remove the top of the clay pot. bake another ten or
twenty minutes. to check for done-ness, put on a pair of heat proof gloves
(*HINT*: BUY GREAT CHEAP LEATHER HEATPROOF GLOVES AT YOUR LOCAL ==>WELDING
SUPPLY SHOP<===) and flop the loaf onto your gloved hand. then tap the
bottom with your finger to see if it sounds as hollow in the middle as it
does near the edge. if it does, it's done.
i usually let it cool for ten or twenty minutes on a rack before eating.
BTW, i've seen clay pots specially designed for baking french loaves. i've
never tried 'em, but they look like they'd work. OTOH, the romertopf also
lets you cook a lot of other things well, too.
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