Shopping can be a real bore. Except, in my case, for food shopping. Homemade pickles and relishes, arcane Asian ingredients and other imported specialty food products have always piqued my interest. It was with no surprise, then, that a few years back I found myself in the specialty food section of the Old Country Store in Mansfield, MA. In addition to all the homemade food items offered for sale there, a wide variety of bread mixes was also on display.
Having never baked a loaf of bread before, I thought it might be fun to see if I could bake anything approaching edibility. The answer, it turned out, was ‘just barely’. The result of my efforts wasn’t much different from the pasty white bread found in a typical supermarket. The bread was nothing like the deeply flavored crusty loaves I remembered savoring during previous trips to Europe. I’m not sure why I expected that it would be.
Being the obsessive person that I am, I became determined to learn how to bake European hearth-style breads in my home kitchen.
And so it begins…