It is one thing to make a good bread once, but making it consistently is the goal here. Of course, my old statistics professor would tell me that two samples is a horrible basis for any form of statistic, but let us ignore that for a bit (I used to doze off in her classes anyway, not the most riveting topic).
I attempted Hamelman's straight dough French bread recipe again yesterday, but got started a bit late due to work. The dough is a bit on the sticky side and my mixer has a bit of strouble actually kneading it properly so I have to after-knead it a bit more, which tends to be a bit annoying since it means that you have to use slightly too much flour when you shape the breads, leaving flour residue on the bread once you bake it, and this residue will generate some grayish streaks on the bread. It does not detract from the flavour, it just isn't so pretty.
I would have shot some photos of the crumb as well, but once the bread was ready and had cooled just the slightest bit it was past 8 pm. Word of advice: Never get between a pregnant woman and her dinner. Ever. It's scary!
The crumb was somewhat denser than the last time I made it, a fact that I attribute to my somewhat failed attempt at making steam in the oven. The ice cubes did not even remotely fizzle when I threw them in a pan with hot water. Also a baking hearth would probably aid tremendously, but I think I get decent results from the metal baking pans I have now. I will have to do some more trial and error, but the breads rose nicely, even after being put in the oven, however they did not develop the hallmark very crispy crust that the French bread in our local bakeries have. It was still an extremely tasty bread, though.
To serve for dinner we made a series of bruschetta-inspired breads, although we might have aberrated a bit from the traditional Italian recipes. A slice of bread with fried mushroom and parsley, with hard-boiled eggs and tomatos, with coarsely chopped tomatos, finely chopped garlic, whole leaves of basil and a bit of extra virgin olive oil served with a slice of serrano ham (we did not have any prosciutto handy to stay in the Italian cuisine). Gorgeous dinner if I have to say so myself.