baking bread

sometimes i just form a loaf, and bake it right on the stone.

baking bread is the most heart-warming activity in the kitchen. mixing, kneading, and forming the dough results in a smooth, elastic, mood for the baker, as well as a dough that delivers one of life's basic comforts from the kitchen. 

eat it plain. 
toast it. 
put butter on it. 
or dip it into a bowl of olive oil, 
and fill your soul with it's earthy, healthy, goodness. 

this recipe is the one i make most often– re-worked from several that i used when i was learning to bake. the only precise measuring is the water and yeast. i add the final few scoops of flour in the kneading process, and go by consistency and feel. the dough will keep about two weeks in the refrigerator, and you can just take out a piece when you want to bake more.

these are a few of the containers i use to bake bread: 
round french casserole bowl, classic loaf pan, and a baguette pan.

i recently saw this method for shaping a loaf while researching rustic loaf baking.

dough shaped into baguettes, ready to rise for the second time.

basic bread recipe
• 3 cups of water
• 1 heaping tbl of sugar
• 1 & 1/2 tbl of active dry yeast
• about 2 tbl of olive oil
• several pinches of kosher salt
• about 4 cups of all purpose unbleached white flour
• about 2 cups of whole wheat flour
• about 2 tbl of vital wheat gluten
• several tbl of either dill, oregano, basil, etc.

heat the water & sugar to 112-115 degrees & pour it into the bowl of the kitchen aid. add the olive oil and whisk in the yeast to dissolve it. cover with a kitchen towel & let it stand about 10 min. until the mixture is bubbling & foamy.

add the flours 1/2 cup at a time, along with the vital wheat gluten & the dried herbs. mix with the dough hook. scrap down the sides and continue to process until you can add as much of the flour as possible so the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

turn the dough out onto a floured granite counter, and dust with flour to knead. continue adding little bits of flour and kneading until you have a smooth, soft, elastic dough. it will be a little sticky to your hands, but won't stick to the counter.

use a little olive oil to coat a large bowl and coat the dough with what is left on your hands. allow the dough to rise in a draft free, warm spot in the bowl, covered with a kitchen towel until doubled- about 1 to 1&1/2 hours.

punch down the dough and cut into four equal pieces.

at this point you can refrigerate the dough and bring it up to room temperature when you are ready to bake. it will keep for about two weeks. i usually go ahead and make at least one loaf & refrigerate the rest.

second rising:
lightly flour the granite and form the dough into the shape you decide to make, following the various instructions below. let it rise until double before baking- 1 to 1&1/2 hours, or at least twice that if you just brought it out of the refrigerator.

to make the bread in a container:
coat the container with olive oil and shape the dough to fit into it. cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise to double. pre-heat the oven to 350. slice the top of the loaf, dust with flour, and crack some salt on it.  bake about 1 hour until the bread is browned and hollow sounding when you thump it.

for a boulé:
lay a large piece of parchment paper on your counter and form the dough into a round ball. cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise to double. slice the top with an X cut & dust it with flour. put the baking stone in the middle of the oven, and heat it to 350 degrees. set the parchment paper with the boulé on it right on top of the stone. bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 min until the internal temperature reaches about 200 degrees.

for baguettes: 
line a baguette pan with parchment paper and form two of the 1/4 pieces of dough into two long baguette shapes. dust them with cornmeal, put them on the baguette pan, and let them rise to double. slash the tops with diagonal cuts and dust with flour & cracked salt. put the bottom of the broiler pan on the lowest rack of the oven and carefully fill it with water. put the stone in the middle of the oven & pre-heat to 400 degrees. set the baguette pan on the stone, spritz the oven with water, and bake for about 30 minutes until golden and hollow when thumped.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The bagettes look "vonderbar". How did they turn out?...and there is my old bread rack. it looks like it is getting better use in your hands for the time being. You keep working on those bread recipes and I will keep looking forward to meeting you on the lania with bread in hand. I will bring the wine.