Today is World Bread Baking Day 2007, hosted by Zorra. For those of you who do not bake, or who do not have an oven, a trip to the local bakery will allow you to purchase breads in the sizes and shapes of those of the 18th Century. Breads are still raised on a couche or in baskets prior to being shoveled into the oven with a peel. Very hot ovens and bursts of steam create that crackly crust we are so familiar with, and a frugal cook will save all those crumbs for additions to broiled toppings and extenders for use with ground meat dishes.
North American women have always made their own bread; each individual farmstead had its own bread oven. This was not so in France where picking up a fresh loaf from the baker was a daily occurence.
New bakeries, no matter the expertise of the baker, do not produce as fine a loaf as they will as they age. The secret? The more that yeasts are encouraged through the process of dough making, rising and baking, the better the quality of wild yeasts present in the space and, therefore, the better the bread.
So in celebration of this World Bread Baking Day 2007, I urge you to either stop by the corner bakery and pick up a loaf, from dark peasant rye to the whitest baguette, to eat with your soup, or if you do bake, try Bernard Clayton, Jr's books of recipes for French breads, loaves just like those eaten in the 18thC! And Zorra's roundup of World Bread Baking Day 2007 will surely present you with many delectible bread variations with which to try your hand at bread baking.