Sunday, February 5, 2012

Refining the method

I recently posted about the awesome - no, miraculous - bread recipe my son gifted me with.

I tried it again the other night to take to a dinner party. I followed the recipe exactly and it was received with high praise. I was so thrilled that I went home from the party and put up another batch of dough to rise overnight.

But it was Sunday night, and I had to go to work Monday morning. My schedule didn't work with the original recipe, which specifies 18 hours for the first rising, then turn the dough out, shape it and let it rise another 2.5 hours before baking.

So I just winged it. My dough rose for just under 12 hours, then I turned it out on the board and smooshed it around a bit - it's too soft to say I actually kneaded it.

Instead of letting it rise a second time on the board covered with a towel, I turned it back into the bowl, because our housecleaners were coming and I didn't want to leave a mess for them to work around.

The second rising took about 9 hours, before I got home from work.

When I unveiled the bowl, huge bubbles appeared on the surface of the dough. Nonetheless, we - [The Man I Love] helped out this time - heated the Dutch oven, sprinkled the hot surface with cornmeal, and turned the whole heaving, burping mess out as a gooey blob into the hot pan. Then we popped it in the oven.

50 minutes later - perfect. The only issue - it stuck to the pan at first. After cooling enough so the pan could be touched, I simply reached in and gave it a gentle twist - and out it came.

The loaf I made Saturday night was a bit more firm than my first and the one I made Sunday night. It was more "kneadable" and, notably, didn't stick to the pan at all. What was different? I think a little less water went into that dough - by that I mean only a couple tablespoons less.

Since then, I've tried it six or seven more times. I've mixed whole wheat flour with the white bread flour - 1 part whole wheat to 2 parts white. I've stirred a third of a cup of steel cut oats into the flour mixture. I've sauteed shallots in olive oil, and added them to the dough, along with chopped fresh thyme.

I've practiced with using a little less water so the dough is easier to handle. I've tried using more water, trying to see how the moisture affects the crust.

I'm still not sure what the most perfect combination is, but I have determined one thing -

This bread is always great. You simply cannot lose.

Here's the one I made today.

If you want to give it a try, go HERE and read the recipe.


M. Bouffant said...

Mmm that looks good; I can just about smell it through the Intertubes.

I think I'll be "helping" my friend & associate (the one w/ the oven) to make some.

cactus petunia said...

Dang! I just had lunch, and now I'm hungry again!
I'm definitely going to try it out tonight.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

I love yeasty science experiment type doughs. I'm definitely trying the bread with the shallots. This looks great!

Anonymous said...

I want to come eat bread with you at your house!

Which reminds me, I need to load up the bread machine for tonight's supper. If I'd read this post sooner, I might have tried your recipe instead. Perhaps I will compromise and turn it out into a pan and put in the oven instead of leaving it in the bread machine...