Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dough is resting.........and so are Murphy and I.

This recipe for bread dough seems far, far to easy. If it really does turn out decent bread I'm teaching my 9 year old granddaughter how to make it, this summer. I have a Kitchen Aid mixer so that helped but you could stir this with a wooden spoon. You would develop strong upper arms, I bet. I also have these wonder red, plastic, graduated size round containers with lids that I found at Target. I can't tell you how many times I have used these for all sorts of mixing or storing things. I bought a set for my daughter because she was always taking one of mine home with her with leftovers. I used the largest bowl to dump the rather wet dough into, pushed the lid down into the bowl (these lids don't snap on top they actually sit down into the bowl, really nicely) and it's rising as I type.
So, I'm going to pass on this basic recipe for anybody interested. This is all part of my doing "something outside of my comfort zone a day challenge". Remember that one? It was a number of posts ago. Yesterday it was making my cookies with a new radical change in how I made them for years. AND, the cookies are delicious, light, evenly baked and John says to keep doing whatever it was I did.
So, this is another change in how I have always made bread.

The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf) from the Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes a Day book by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. And a few comments by me. :)

3 cups luke warm water ( I just zapped mine 2 minutes in the microwave and then kept testing it on the inside of my wrist like I used to do with baby bottles)

1 1/2 Tablespoons granulated yeast or 1 1/2 packets - Check your yeast and make sure it hasn't expired.

1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt. I have a big box of kosher salt just sitting around.

6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop and sweep method. (This is interesting, you scoop the floor up into the measuring cup and then just sweep it level with a knife or something flat.) Do not sift, pound, or do anything other than this scoop and sweep method.

You put the warm water in the mixing bowl. It should be about 100 degrees in temperature.
Then you add the yeast and salt and DO NOT WORRY ABOUT GETTING IT TO DISSOLVE.
Stop staring at it, it doesn't matter. If the water wasn't to hot it's going to work.

If you have a big mixer use the dough hook and low speed and start mixing it all together.
If you are using a wooden spoon, start singing a good stirring song.
What you are looking for is uniformly moist, without dry patches dough.
If you have the kind of mixer I do that means stopping everything, removing the hook and getting down to the bottom of the bowl and making sure that the dry stuff down there is moved up to the top. It always does that, don't know why but it's a pain.

When everything is mixed the dough is wet. You might think it's too wet but apparently that's the BIG KEY to the success of this method.
I plopped the dough from the mixer into my red plastic bowl and put the lid on it and put in on top of the dryer.

It's the warmest spot in the house right now, I'm doing laundry.

You allow it to rise, you don't want an airtight lid. You let it rise until it starts to collapse or at least flattens on top which is supposed to be in about two hours.

Ok, this is interesting. So, the first time you try our method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight before shaping a loaf. Guess, I'll be making my loaf tomorrow morning.

On the baking day: You sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (hmmm size of a grapefruit) piece of dough, using a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting of flour will fall off; it's not intended to be incorporated into the dough. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 20-60 seconds.

Rest the loaf and let it rise on a sprinkled surface (it has to some sort of surface you can slide the loaf off into the oven, later) of cornmeal.
Let it rest for about 40 minutes

Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Ah, well here's a catch, place a baking stone (but WAIT I bought one for pizza and never used it............where did I put it)
Well, put your baking stone in the middle of your oven rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a 1/4" deep cross or scallop or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.

After a 20-minute preheat, you're ready to bake, even though your oven thermometer won't yet be up to full temperature. With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the cornmeal prepared sheet and onto the preheated baking stone.
Pour about 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Because you've used wet dough, there is little risk of drying out the interior despite the dark crust. When you remove the loaf from the oven it will audibly crackle or "sing" (isn't that cool) when initially exposed to room temperature air. Allow to cool completely (yeah right) on a wire cooling rack for best flavor, texture and slicing.

You can store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded container and use it over the next 14 days.

Well, this looks like fun. Tomorrow, I'll have to let you know what it looks like and how it tastes.

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