Fool Proof Bread

From The Mercury News, April 2, 2008
and they say "adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)"

February 2010 - The new kitchen was done and I was ready. I've wanted to try homemade breads and now I had the counter space to do it. I didn't want to knead, and you don't have to. You can find a lot of recipes on-line, so this isn't here to tell you something new. I have it here so that I don't forget it.

A. water, lukewarm 3 cups  
granualted yeast 1.5 tablespoons Not "quick" yeast.
Kosher salt 1.5 tablespoons  

Put the water in the bowl and add yeast and salt. Wait five minutes.

B. unbleached flour 6.5 cups "Dip and scoop" out the flour and scrape with the back of a knife to get even measures.

Prepare your stand mixer with a dough hook.

Dump all the flour into the mixer's bowl. Add the yeasty water from step A.

 Mix on medium speed until the dough pulls from the sides.

Remove the hook and cover the bowl with a towel. Let sit at room temperature for 2 - 5 hours (or longer in the refrigerator).

C. unbleached flour 0.5 cup  
  cornmeal 0.5 cup  

If the dough has been stored in the refrigerator, allow to warm to room temperature, about one hour.

Heat oven to 450. One rack in the middle of the oven, one rack right below that. Place a broiler pan with a lip on the lower shelf.

Sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle the top of the dough mass with some flour. Pull out a grapefruit sized piece and cut it off with a serrated knife. Put more flour on your hands if it's sticky.

Hold the ball in one hand and gently stretch the surface from the top to the bottom. Rotate 90 degrees and do it again. This should only take a minute. Place the ball on the cornmeal, seam side down. Let it rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 40 minutes.

Dust the top of each boule with flour. Using a sharp knife, score each with two straight lines.

Get one cup of hot tap water ready.

Open the oven and place the baking sheet on the middle oven rack.

Pour the hot water into the broiler pan and quickly shut the oven door - you want the steam to get to the bread.

Bake for 30 minutes and remove to cool on a wire rack. That's it.

The remaining dough can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 14 days - so they say.


Second Day

I did the exact same thing the second day to see if an overnight rest of the dough made a difference. It did!! On day 2, I formed the cold dough and put it into the over after the specified 40 minute rest - it was still pretty cool. This loaf had a darker crust and a chewier interior. There was also a nicer yeast flavor.

Ciabatta on the left, Day 2 in middle, Day 1 on the right

The next step is to let it sit in the refrigerator for 7 days and see if that enhances the flavor.


On day 2 I also tried making ciabatta. I let the cold dough set at room temp for an hour. I then added a half cup of water and used the dough hook in the mixer to get it incorporated. Then I added a bit more flour. I wanted to get the dough really wet and sticky, but not like soup. I got the idea from King Arthur.

I made a lump and put it on the cornmeal. It flowed like Silly Putty. But still I went on. I let it bake less than 25 minutes as it was thin and started to get dark. I had the same taste as the other second day loaf and it did have some big air bubbles, but not as many as I hoped for. Maybe all that mixing made too much gluten? This one needs more work.