Friday, March 21, 2008

Breadmaking 1o1

Here is a basic recipe for 2 pounds of flour. The time frame is just for reference. Once you get into the routine you can change the recipe and timing....

1. At 7 am in a BIG bowl mix
3 c. white (bread) flour , 3 c. water,1 tsp instant yeast and 1/2 c. sourdough starter (optional, works without it, too)
Cover and let stand at room temperature for 5-6 hours.
3. At 12 am give it a good stir and
mix in 2 c. whole wheat ( or spelt or rye or ....) flour , 1 c. white bread flour and 1 Tbsp. salt.
Use a wooden spoon and when the dough gets too dense to stir just use your hand to incorporate everything. This should not take more than 3 minutes. Don't even have to knead it, no problem if it is sticky! You can also do it in your bread machine or food processor, of course.
Cover it again and give it another 5-6 hours.
5. At 5 pm heat the oven for 430 F. for at least a good 1/2 hour with a clay pot + lid (aka Römertopf ) in the oven. A heavy iron pot w/ a lid also works.

6. Punch down the dough, this will let the air escape , give it a few folds and turns (kind of like kneading, but not really) and wait 10 minutes. With the help of a bit of olive oil on your hands shape the bread and place it on a wooden board that is coated with cornmeal or farina (slash it with a razor if you want...)
7. When the clay pot is nice and hot carefully place the bread in it (it should easily slide off the board) and bake it covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The clay pot will function like a mini bread oven. If you want you can remove the lid for the last 10 minutes.( CAREFUL! HOT STEAM!). Remove the bread from the pot and pat yourself on the back!!! Let it cool before you cut it!

Option #1:
Instead of baking it in the evening (5.) you can punch down the dough, cover it and place it in the fridge for the night and then bake it in the morning (maybe giving the dough an extra 1/2 hour or an hour to come back to room temp). This extra time will greatly enhance the flavor of the finished bread.
Option #2:
This recipe also works without the 1/2 c. sourdough starter but use it if you have it because that also improves the flavor.
Option #3:
Bake it in 2 batches. Shape the loaves and bake them for 40 minutes either together ( if you have 2 pots with lids) or one after the other. Of course you can make them into small rolls, too. In that case skip the clay pot, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces , shape then place them on a baking sheet coated w/ cornmeal, let them rise for about 1/2 hour and bake them at 400 F for about 20-30 minutes.

It is true that it takes about 12 to 24 hours to make it but it's simple, isn't it? and Oh Boy , it tastes good! Hands-on-time is hardly more than 10-15 minutes AND no experience is necessary ! Enjoy!

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