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I had off from work yesterday, so I gave myself a bunch of chores to do all day. Too many, really. To give you an idea of what my day was like, I will recount the process of making the bread in the context of the rest of the day’s happenings.

Sunday night: Made the pâte fermentée (starter dough), which contains flour, water, yeast, and salt. Let that rise for about an hour and then refrigerated it overnight.

8am: Took the pâte fermentée out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature. Drove Michael to the train station, stopped at the bank on the way home, but it was still closed, then went home.

9am: Mixed flour, water, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, egg, butter, and pâte fermentée to make the dough. Kneaded for about 10 minutes, and then let the dough rise for 2 hours. I took that opportunity to make a trip to Home Depot where I got a can of paint, potting soil, and flowers for the window boxes. My original plan was to go to Home Depot and Path Mark in that time period, but Home Depot took much longer than expected, so as soon as I finished there I had to head home. Went to the bank on the way back.

10:45am: I got home with a little time to spare, so for some reason I thought it would be a great idea to start the window box project right then. I carried a couple of really heavy bags of potting soil up to the porch and proceeded to fill the boxes with dirt. It was very messy and the slight rain drizzle did not help. I stopped that project about halfway through, once all of the flowers had been arranged (but not planted) in the boxes. After the dough had doubled in size, I divided it and formed it into two boules. I let the boules sit for 20 minutes, then formed them into bâtards, or torpedos. While the boules were resting, I made the “Dutch crunch,” a paste that would be spread on top of the loaves before the final proofing. The paste was made with bread flour, rice flour, sugar, and salt (I think). Once I formed the bâtards, I spread the paste on top.

The loaves had to rise for 60-90 minutes, so I ventured back out to Path Mark and did some food shopping.

1pm:: After I got back from the store and unpacked the groceries, I preheated the oven to 450º. I was happy to see that, in the time I was gone, the loaves had puffed up nicely. Once the oven was ready, I put the loaves in the oven and poured some water into an empty pan to get a nice steam effect (I still can’t tell if this process actually helps my bread). The bread baked for about 30 minutes and I took it out once it was nice and brown. Also happy to see that I didn’t underbake this time around!

I have to say, I always strive to have my bread look exactly like the pictures in the book, and I think this is the closest I’ve come so far. The bread is light and fluffy, but the Dutch crunch gives the crust a nice—you guessed it—crunch!

2pm: Painted the moldings/windowsill/door of the half bathroom.

3:30pm: Prepped chicken fajita dinner.

4:30pm: Sat on the couch for the first time and finished transferring our dvd collection from standard dvd cases to a book.

5:30pm: Couldn’t get up from the couch, so I watched the end half of State of Play (starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams) on HBO and did not move.

6:15pm: Packed 2 boxes of empty dvd cases into my car (to give to the library for in-house use) and picked Michael up at the train station.

Next bread: White Bread!

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