Monday, November 09, 2009

Bread In The Bone

Returning with the cooler weather (though the last few days have been utterly resplendent Indian summer, flirting with low 70's) has been my desire to bake bread. I kind of fell out of the habit this summer, but now I'm fully back into it, this time with some slight modifications to the process that fit better with my equipment and the rhythms of my life.

I'm still using the live starter that Andrew gave us, but I've reverted back to more of a no-knead style as opposed to his recipe which calls for several days of refrigeration before baking. Since it's cool now, I find that doing a bit of initial folding and then letting it sit, covered, on the counter overnight gets the dough to the perfect baking point sometime the next day- depending on the ambient temperature and what time I mixed it up the previous evening. When it's about doubled in size and the surface is undulating with lots of bubbles, I dump it onto a floured board and give it a bit of a shape, letting it sit while the oven heats up. Mostly I don't use the banneton any more, since proofing seems less important when the dough has been at room temp the whole time. And fewer steps and fewer tools means easier, and thus more likely to actually get done on a regular basis.

We have an oval Dutch oven that I've been using to bake bread in- it's the single best part of the original no-knead recipe, working brilliantly to get a glossy, crackling crust on any kind of dough you throw in there- but the single recipe wasn't quite enough to get good height on the loaf and a double was too much, bumping into the lid and inhibiting the lovely bubbly crumb. I tried 1.5s for a while, and they worked, but we go through bread pretty fast around here, so recently I've been doing double recipes in our larger round iron oven. A bit of trial and error led me to the right baking times- about 50% more than a single loaf. They're beautiful, and they last several days.



















I use roughly 30% whole wheat (or sometimes the local 7-grain mix) and I like to sprinkle flax seeds on top for extra taste and texture. Now that I'm comfortable with the routine, and getting consistent results, I'm starting to think about ways to tweak it with added flavors and such. I also want to get a small round oven (or two) so I can bake flavored single-recipe loaves with a good shape, thus allowing, say, a raisin and nut loaf to coexist alongside a smoked serrano and cheddar loaf- the best of all possible worlds.

























I've submitted this to YeastSpotting, and they like a link, so there it is.

7 comments:

Brooke said...

Looks lovely. I've been too pussy to try bread since culinary school, because I was so used to all the fancy proofers and ovens, which my kitchen sadly lacks. Looks like you found a good way to do it at home. You've given me hope, Peter.

The Spiteful Chef said...

I love homemade bread so much. I've always been really suspicious of the no-knead recipes, even though I know they work on principle.

I bought a Zojirushi breadmaker fairly recently, and I use that to knead my dough. I still shape and bake by hand, though, since I don't like bread machine bread.

Susan said...

One of the top miracles of nature, to my mind, is the ability of gluten to organize itself with nothing but time to help it along -- and no knead bread is the proof. I love this loaf with the flax seed topping. Thanks for sending it to YeastSpotting!

MC said...

A very handsome loaf! Looks so good too... I like the miracle of no-knead. All this life going on below the surface of the dough...

peter said...

Brooke: I'm all about the hope. I bet you can crush it.

Kristie: This had some kneading- I do a bit of Andrew's stretch-and-fold at the beginning- but you should try it. It mostly comes down to figuring out how much time you need given your starter and your local temperature.

Susan: Thanks for publishing it; it's nice to know that the bread is finally ready for prime time.

MC: I'm more and more enamored of the microbes; fermentation really is like magic.

We Are Never Full said...

that totally deserves it's own spread in "yeastspotting" LLLOOOOLLL. ok, but seriously, that looks like a fabulous loaf. You can see how hard the exterior is. I've gotta tell jonny to buy us an oval dutch oven so we can make bread like this. he's been trying to perfect his poor bread-baking skills for a long time. and now that bread is like $7 a loaf, it's worth really honing those skills!

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