I am a day late with this post – sorry! Yesterday just evaporated. I don’t know where the time went. I even forgot to go out and get the mail, which for me is surprising.
There are so many wonderful looking breads in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. It was really hard to decide which one to make! I chose the Dutch Crunch Demi-Baguettes for several reasons. Many of the bread recipes call for a levain, or sourdough starter. Taking care of a levain is not a commitment I want to make right now. For the breads that are best with a nice crusty exterior, the authors have developed a set-up where the home cook can create a hot steamy oven using river stones and a metal chain. While it would be fun to give this method a try and learn to create wonderful, crusty breads, I am again not ready to commit to buying the tools and spending the time making the breads (maybe my challenge for 2014?). Anyway, I had to choose from the recipes that do not use a levain and don’t require the steam set-up. The Dutch Crunch Demi-Baquettes looked delicious and like something I had never made before.
The chapter on Breads includes very detailed instructions for everything from mixing the dough to shaping and baking. I found the instructions for the Dutch Crunch bread easy to follow, though I probably should have read some of the introductory information a little more closely first!
The instructions for pre-shaping and shaping are especially helpful. There are step-by-step instructions (including photos) for all the different loaf shapes. The dough for my demi-baguettes was easy to work with and shape.
I had a little trouble getting my loaves to rise. This is where reading the introductory information would have been helpful – I didn’t place my loaves in a warm enough location. Moving them to a warmer spot did the trick.
The “crunch” part of the Dutch Crunch loaves comes from a topping made with rice flour, canola oil, yeast, and a touch of sugar and salt. The topping is piped onto the loaves just before they are put into the oven. I had always wondered how Dutch Crunch bread was made!
Overall, my bread turned out very nicely! I though the bottom crust was a little tough, but the crunch topping was very good and the bread had a nice flavor and texture.
The intro to the recipe suggests this bread is great for roast beef sandwiches, so that’s what I used it for. These were very tasty sandwiches!
My husband really liked this bread. He said it would be “good for a picnic”, so I see some roast beef on Dutch Crunch sandwiches on a picnic in our future. After our meal he said the bread “definitely gets high marks”. He is generally not very effusive about food unless he really, really likes it, so I take this compliment seriously!
The instructions have you proof the bread under a plastic bin or cardboard box as a makeshift proofing box. I used a cardboard box but next time I will try a plastic bin. In our dry climate my loaves developed a dry crust as they were proofing, which hampered their rising. Hopefully the plastic bin will prevent that.
The only adjustment I made was to add an extra tablespoon of water to the dough. My bread was slightly dry and the dough not as sticky as I expected, so next time I will try adding a second extra tablespoon.
I realized recently that I should probably tackle some of the more time-consuming recipes while my daughter is still in school, and save some “quicker” ones for summer when I won’t have as much time. To that end, in March I will be making Traditional Croissants and Pains au Chocolat (page 242). I may even try the Almond Croissants (page 249) with some of the leftovers. I will share my results with you on March 26!