Artisan Bread Making

Artisan Bread Making

Give me an internet high-five! This is my first attempt at (Successful) Artisan Bread Making.

Did you miss me? 😛 I missed my third anniversary of being a WordPress blogger in August! This is a belated post to celebrate how far my journey with food has been. I understand I did ‘promise’ to work on noodle dough for Post #55 — how about, I will work on a dough series throughout the remaining in 2013, with no particular self-imposed order?

Long story short, I’m finally getting used to cooking for just myself while juggling work, accounting studies and fitness. Sometimes, I find that taking a “blog-cation” helps me focus on adapting and testing recipes. It also allowed me to share my passion with friends and neighbours; I organized an “Iron-Chef” cooking event, where I rented a community hall for a Thanksgiving themed potluck. I roasted a goose! You can connect with me on my Recipe Box community on Facebook or Instagram (@Cynderbug), where you get to see live posts of my food experiments for the CJ Kitchen. Stay tuned for more posts (and recipes)!

I have finally conquered my temperamental nemesis: bread. This is a no-knead technique I learnt from Laura Rogerson, who has been baking bread for over 40 years! This was the first time this class has been offered through the City of Edmonton. I must warn you that you might want to take the next day off; I had to wake up at 4 am in the wee hours of the morning to work on this slow baby bump. Well, the French calls it boule, which means ball, literally.

A rustic boule

A rustic boule, being cooled after it sits in the stoneware for 5 minutes

What kind of Equipment Do I Need?

– Pardon the puns, but it will help you remember: you don’t ‘knead’ to use any warm water. This is a long and slow fermentation process. The quality of your flour, yeast and the water content determines your success rate for a bread dough. You can shape the bread in a metal pan inside a cast iron Dutch-oven, with the lid closed — if you so wish to cut your bread into a rectangular loaf. Your bake-ware should be able to withstand 500F. Use unbleached bread flour if you can find it.  Laura recommended Red Star yeast instead of Fleischmann.
– A lint-free tea-towel; from the book Dough – Simple Contemporary Bread by Richard Bertinet suggests that you ought to designate a tea towel for bread-making. Also, just wash it off with hot water in the sink, with no detergent.

After the first 12 hours, you may want to check your dough. Remove the plastic wrap. You should see strand development (TOP RIGHT). Dust tea-towel. Wrap and let rest.

After the first 12 hours, you may want to check your dough. Remove the plastic wrap. You should see strand development (TOP RIGHT). Dust tea-towel. Wrap and let rest.

Here is the BASIC BREAD DOUGH. (printable PDF)

BASIC BREAD DOUGH

(can also be made without salt)

Dry:
3 cups bread flour                            (400 g)
1 ¼ tsp sea salt or Kosher salt     (8 g)
¼ tsp yeast                                         (1 g)
Wet:
1 1/3 cups water, filtered             (300 g) @ Cool Temperature 55 – 65 °F

Optional: use cornmeal for dusting

Instructions:

  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add water and mix with your hand or use a wooden spoon for about 30 seconds or so to incorporate all the flour.
    Dough should be sticky and wet. (Refrain from adding extra flour)
  2. If you live in drier climates, you might need to add 1 tbsp more water or so. Hydration should be around 75%.
  3. Wrap the mixing bowl with a cling wrap; avoid covering with tea-towel as air would escape through the tea-towel.
  4. Let it rise for 12 to 18 hours. It should double in size; look for dots on surface. Texture is very sticky. If you were to leave your dough for longer than 18 hours, your dough will have no life.
  5. You will know if your dough is ready for second proofing when there are long strands developing as you lift the dough ball.
  6. Flour your work surface. Dust tea towel with flour. Cover the tea towel over the dough and let it rise for an hour (to two hours) on the counter. Let it again double. When you poke the dough, the imprint should just stay. If it springs back, check back in 15 minutes.
  7. Position oven racks 1/3 from bottom. Preheat the oven at 500F and subsequently preheat your stoneware or cast iron casserole pot while you wait for the second proofing.
  8. Flip upside down in Dutch oven. The closed pot creates the environment of a steamed oven.
  9. Bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gcf-JiY53JI&w=420&h=315]
    You should be able to hear the bread ‘sing’ on the outside. Cook until internal temperature reaches 205°F.
    Leave the bread in the pan for 5 minutes.
    (At sea level: 200 to 202° F)
  10. Cool for an hour before cutting on a rack.

To freeze:
Once the bread is cooled, wrap in tin foil to maintain moisture. Wrap in cling wrap and keep in a zipped bag.

For steps 9 and 10, this is a summary of what I did:
For the first 30 minutes, your dough should look a golden yellow. I didn’t get to taste it until I got home from work. It is delicious when served with spinach dip:

A close up of how the boule evolved from steps 9 to 10 to everyone's bellies!

A close up of how the boule evolved from steps 9 to 10, right into everyone’s bellies!

If you want an easy way to serve, dip it with 3 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar — add 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Enjoy! (Try red wine vinegar and tell me if you like that too!)

(Post last edited on May-15-2016 to shorten link URL and to include the first sentence. Note: CJ Kitchen was Cynful Journey; it is now Cynful Kitchen.)