Warm Southern Breeze

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Posts Tagged ‘loaves’

Make French Bread

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, November 14, 2018

By definition, classic, authentic French bread has only 4 ingredients:
1.) Flour
2.) Salt
3.) Yeast
4.) Water

For some, baking is a mysteriously puzzling process. For others – as with math – it comes easily. Either way, it’s a learned process, can be taught, and the products it produces may be further developed, refined and enjoyed.

At the most basically fundamental level, making bread is the transformation of raw grains into deliciously tasty finished products. An entire language surrounding the baking of bread has arisen, and as our understanding of the art and science of bread-making continues to be developed, new terms may emerge. However, there remain time-tested terms about which many have heard – even if they’re not fully understood – and it is with those most basic terms and processes that French bread is understood, and made.

So in order to understand the how’s and why’s of bread-making, it’s equally important to understand the historical context in which French bread emerged.

Unlike bread in general, French bread’s history is relatively new, per se, and dates to the mid-to-late 1700’s – a revolutionary era in which France and the United States were forming.

Like the American Revolution, the French Revolution gave power to the people who were also subjected to abuse by terror-inducing government actions, including the forced quartering of troops (lodging & feeding) in private residences without either invitation by, or reimbursement to, the owners, and included shortages and rationing of staple food supplies because of many continuous years of harshly inclement climate and weather conditions resulting in crop failures, and other agricultural catastrophes.

Market speculation didn’t help matters, and prices for all foods rose rapidly, precipitously and exponentially, especially and particularly for wheat, and significantly adversely affected the poor and impoverished, who could no longer afford to buy flour. And what flour they were able to afford was of grossly inferior quality and poorly milled, which processing left many bran hulls in the final product.

But the pièce de résistance was mass starvation.

While the few wealthy elites had plenty of money to afford all kinds of food, the majority did not, and were literally starving. Consequentially, crimes of theft, murder, and prostitution were common because people didn’t have enough money to feed their families, and resorted to such activities merely to stay alive.

King Louis XVI and his royal entourage at the royal castle in Versailles were isolated from, oblivious, and indifferent to the escalating crisis of the people’s suffering. And while in response to the appellate courts’ orders to reduce spending, he did so begrudgingly, most of his token attempts to pacify by claiming reform were thwarted by his appointed judges.

During the age of Enlightenment many writers, pamphleteers and publishers informed or inflamed public opinion, and used opposition to the government as a resource to mobilize public opinion in opposition to the monarchy, which in turn tried to repress what became known as “underground” literature. Today, they would be called the “fake news” media.

Complaints of the era included Read the rest of this entry »

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