The photo above is one of my all-time favorite design projects. The kitchen in question was a labor of love for my client as much as it was for me. My client was a baker, a baker’s baker. Our goal was to give her enough room, the right equipment and the perfect atmosphere for her to bake to her heart’s content.
I’m a baker too and although my client wasn’t fully aware of it, I was designing the kind of baker’s kitchen I’ll build for myself one of these days.
I baked my first loaf of bread when I was in college more than 20 years ago and from that first attempt I knew I’d found a niche I could call home. I had no experience with it up until then and all I had to go by were the kind and encouraging words I found in the Tassajara Bread Book written by Edward Espe Brown.
Edward Espe Brown’s gentle prodding and his inexact recipes taught me to bake by instinct as much as by the rules and I was hooked. Bread baking is a philosophy and a way of life as much as it is a method of food preparation.
Contrary to popularly-held opinion, bread baking is neither difficult nor time-consuming. Bread baking happens in short bursts of activity that fall between hours or days of doing nothing more than waiting. Bread baking is a never ending process and I don’t think anyone ever masters it fully. It thrives on experimentation and no two loaves ever turn out the same way. It can’t be rushed, it requires physical work to produce and it touches a part of me that nothing else can.
I bake bread year round, but it’s at this time of year that my baking ratchets up a couple of notches. Nothing expresses the depth of my affection for the people I love like my bread does. It’s not just a good food, it’s me in those loaves. Life gets no better than to have my loved ones sitting around my table as I fill them with food I made.
I’m attaching my current favorite bread recipe. It’s based on a French baguette but I don’t use a baguette pan for it. It’s perfect with dinner, it’s perfect as dinner and it’s the backbone of my turkey stuffing every Thanksgiving. It’s a simple recipe and one that would be a great introduction to the way of life that is being a baker. Happy holidays to one and all.
Photo of two bread loaves that Paul baked recently. Looks absolutely delish!
Paul’s Baguette Inspired Bread Recipe
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 ½ cups warm water (105°–115° F)
- 4 to 4 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt
- olive oil
In a large bowl, take ½ cup of warm water, 1 cup of flour and a pinch of the yeast and mix together. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature. The next day, add a cup of water to this starter and mix it well. In a separate bowl, dry mix 3 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast and then fold into the larger bowl. Mix thoroughly with a metal spoon.
Take the remaining ½ cup of flour and use it to lightly flour your hands and a kneading surface. Turn the dough in the bowl onto the surface and knead thoroughly for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Rinse and dry the bread bowl. Lightly oil the bowl and transfer the dough back into it. Turn the dough to oil it top and bottom. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles in size (1 ½ to 2 hours).
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Take a cast iron skillet and fill it ¾ full with water. Set in the lower rack of the oven.
Punch down the dough, turn it out onto the floured surface and form it into two long, slender loaves around 3" in diameter. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set loaves onto it. Let rise for ½ hour at room temperature.
Make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes across the the top of the loaves. Lightly brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake on the center rack for ½ hour or until the crust is golden. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
About Paul Anater of Kitchen & Residential Design
I am a kitchen and bath designer based in St. Petersburg, Florida. I’ve been designing in this market for almost ten years now and I’ve developed a great base of clients, many of whom have become friends.Two years ago I started a blog called Kitchen and Residential Design. My intention was for it to be an online resource for my kitchen and bath clients. It’s taken on a life of its own since then and its effects have been as thrilling as they’ve been surprising. Through my blog, I’m able to reach clients, vendors and colleagues I could have never met otherwise.
My blog’s become more broad in its subject matter since I started it, but my first love will always be kitchen design.