Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bread in Five Minutes

I have a real love affair with good bread.  I could easily eat it with every meal. 

Or FOR every meal.

Tonight I almost did that...ate bread and water for dinner.  I through a couple of slice of turkey in to "round" out my meal.

This is a recipe that I've seen on multiple blogs and heard great things about.  But I was a little frightened to try it.

Thursday night, for Relief Society, we had a demonstration and I decided to try it today.

Here is the recipe, adapted from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day:  (My adaptations and comments are in italics)

You will want to mix the ingredients in a large-ish bowl that has a lid that isn't airtight.  The girl who demonstrated this used a plastic ice cream bucket--like the kind my friend Ginger uses for a salad bowl.  :)
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
  • 6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour,
         measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
  • Cornmeal for pizza peel
1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100°F. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. You can use cold tap water and get an identical final result; then the first rising will take 3 or even 4 hours. That won't be too great a difference, as you will only be doing this once per stored batch.  I made this before I left for church and didn't know I had the cold water option.  I will definitely try cold water next time to lengthen the rising time and not fret about rushing home. 

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Don't worry about getting it all to dissolve. I used a container that was too small and ended up with a little bit of a mess--it, however, was easily cleaned up.  Although you don't have to dissolve the yeast and salt, I would try to prevent any lumps.
3. Mix in the flour—kneading is unnecessary: Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula; don't press down into the flour as you scoop or you'll throw off the measurement by compressing. Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. If you're hand-mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don't knead. It isn't necessary. You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container. I used a wooden spoon and it wasn't difficult at all, but next time I will use my Kitchen Aid. 

4. Allow to rise: Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you're using. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately 2 hours, depending on the room's temperature and the initial water temperature. Longer rising times, up to about 5 hours, will not harm the result. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try our method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours), before shaping a loaf.  I didn't do this, but if you haven't really made any bread, this could be a good idea.
5. The gluten cloak: don't knead, just "cloak" and shape a loaf in 30 to 60 seconds. First, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal  to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. If you don't have a pizza peel, use a cutting board.  Use a lot of cornmeal, the more you have the less likely the dough will stick to your surface.  Cloaking is sprinkling the top of the dough liberally with flour...probably a quarter cup. 

6. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) 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 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 30 to 60 seconds.  I decided to bake all the dough, which ended up being 3 loaves.  I should have baked one. 

6. Rest the loaf and let it rise on a pizza peel: Place the shaped ball on the cornmeal-covered pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest on the peel for about 40 minutes (it doesn't need to be covered during the rest period). Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking ("oven spring").   Since it is summer in Arizona, I let my first loaf rise 20 minutes, my second loaf rise 40 minutes, and the final one to rise 60 minutes.  There wasn't a huge difference between the first and the last--I could have baked two at a time.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

8. Dust and slash: Unless otherwise indicated in a specific recipe, dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross, "scallop," or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.  I forgot to do this on one of the loaves and it split on the bottom, so I highly recommend this step.
9. Baking with steam: 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 pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone. Quickly but carefully 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 about 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," when initially exposed to roomtemperature air. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack, for best flavor, texture, and slicing. The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.  I added about 3 cups of water and had to add more between the second and third loaves.  The water spatters quite a bit, so be careful!

10. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days: You'll find that even one day's storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the 14-day storage period. Refrigerate unused dough in a lidded storage container (again, not airtight). If you mixed your dough in this container, you've avoided some cleanup. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them. We often have several types of dough storing in the refrigerator at once. The dough can also be frozen in 1 pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.

I hope you enjoy this bread as much as Darrell and I did.

1 comment:

Just Pam said...

I can't wait to try! Thanks for sharing :-)