I had to make sure I had a lot of time set aside for this bread. Julia herself says that the whole making of the bread takes at least 6 1/2 to 7 hours before baking it. And I almost made it while I was at my mom's, but she's got a convection oven and frankly that scares me. So finally I decided on last Sunday. It was going to be the day for bread baking. We were house and dog sitting, so I almost did it in my mother-in-law's oven, because mine is a throwback to the era of non-digital clocks and rough estimates on dials. But in the spirit of Julia, who never seemed to mind making a mistake and fixing it, I decided to bake at home so I could reproduce the bread again if I wanted. (Without waiting for the Brain's parents to go on a trip.)
The problems actually started on Saturday when I asked the Brain if he wouldn't mind sometime when his shoulder felt better, fixing the leaky kitchen faucet. So on Sunday, after I'd started making my bread and it was snug in it's first 4 1/2 hour rise (it's cold here so the rises took longer) we went to Home Depot to get a new faucet. We picked out this gorgeous one that goes straight up and curves back down so that I could fit bigger pots under it. Incidentally it's great for filling up my circulating ice cooler, but I'm jumping ahead of myself here. I also checked with the Home Depot people about those unglazed terra cotta tiles and completely confused them. Well, until one finally figured it out and said I should just get a pampered chef baking stone 'cause that's what he had.
Back home again, we set about to changing the faucet. I was underneath just a screwing and unscrewing away. Of course I learned that it is important to shut off the water to the faucet before unscrewing the pipe, but no problemo, this was kind of fun. But then we realized we didn't have the part that went from the faucet handle parts to the water pipes. So Brain went and got some parts while I did the deflating and prepped the dough for the second 3 hour rise. The Brain came back and the part was about an inch to short, so out he went again.
When he came back he quickly went to work screwing these last two pipes in. I sat there kneeling with my feet on my but watching. (This is important you understand. I was just sitting there on my heels watching him finish.) When he finished we applauded and I stood up careful not to knock over the drip bucket. All of the sudden, HOLY JESUS! There was shooting pain going down from my knee into my calf. White hot pain that had me doing my fake Lamaze breathing (really what would I know about Lamaze breathing besides what I've seen on TV, but that's what I imagine in my head.) So there I was forcibly exhaling and the Brain asking "what the hell did you do?" What did I do? I started to cry. I hopped in our 120 year old house over to the couch (with visions of breaking through the floorboard into the dug out basement. Pleasantly plump girls do not hop in 120 year old houses unless they have to.)
According to the doctor who is an Ohio State fan (will the horribleness never end?) I have an angry medial compartment. Well the compartment matches the rest of me. How ridiculous to hurt myself standing up. I mean really I've exerted myself much more in the past and this is something I've done literally thousands of times before. Sooooo now I get to go through an MRI, if they can't do an open one, he's assured me I will be nicely drugged up. I'm a touch claustrophobic. And then probably surgery. All because I stood up.
But back to the bread. By the time I was back to breathing normally I was wondering what to do with this bread and my inability to walk really. The Brain told me I could throw it out, but I had several hours invested in it and really at that point I needed to bake. Baking is soothing for me. So I scooted the spare computer chair into the kitchen. At this point the Brain went to let the doggies out who were probably crossing their legs and dancing it had been so long. Standing on one leg, I managed to shape them into fairly decent looking boules. I slashed two of them straight down the center and I tried to get fancy on one and cut it in a crescent.
Then I somehow managed to get a pan of water into the oven without spilling any. And in the bread went. I couldn't find my squirt bottle to mist the bread, but to be honest I wasn't really in the mood to tear the house apart looking. I went with the whole basting the bread with water bit. I set the timer and went back to the couch. After a bit, I became aware of a burning smell. It turns out that one side of my oven is hotter than the other and the crescent cut boule was far more toasty shall we say than the others. The Brain tasted the bread the next morning and came up with the oh so explicit critique of "It tastes like bread."
I am a little more verbose than my handsome other half. I thought it was tasty. It was really really really tasty. It had a real nice crust. The crumb was chewy and there were some nice air pockets to it. It was exactly the kind of bread that I wish I could buy here in North Central Ohio, but I haven't found. It's all gone and I want more. I'll definitely be making it again. Whether I need surgery or not.