Thursday, April 19, 2012

Baking Bakery Bread

I love to bake bread. There's nothing I like more than the smell of fresh baked bread, and tearing off a chunk from my loaf dipping it in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. When I first started baking bread I had a really hard time because no matter how much I kneaded the dough, it would always come out dense. I wanted light and fluffy bread with lots of holes in it! I don't have a kitchen mixer so my search for recipes was inhibited right off the bat by that limiting factor.
Finally, I found the perfect breadmaking recipe that produced the holes I wanted!
I found the recipe on a blog called 8.ate@eight under the title, Breadmaking 101: How to Make Bakery Quality Bread @ Home. The best part? It's so easy to make, you don't need bread maker or a kitchen mixer, and there's no kneading involved! The recipe is completely with clean instructions and step-by-step photos! This saves me all the trouble of that!

The instructions look ridiculously long and complicated, but trust me, they aren't that bad. Especially once you get the hang of it and after a few times you'll start memorizing it.

I was thinking, you know, we have a surplus of dragon-fighting Vikings, but do we have enough *bread-making* Vikings...?

Homemade Crusty Whole Wheat Bread {Stretch & Fold Method}
Makes 1 Loaf | Total Time: 4 hours

2 cups unbleached bread flour {~305 grams}
1.5 cups whole wheat flour {~213 grams}
2.5 teaspoons kosher salt {~14 grams}
2 teaspoons (scant) rapid rise dry yeast {~6 grams}
1 Tablespoon (scant) barley malt powder {~14 grams}
1.69 cups  room temperature filtered water {400 milliliters}
corn meal for flouring basket at step 11
Optional: herbs, spices, etc...

  1. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Create a well in the middle and slowly add half the water, stirring slowly with a butter knife. As the dough comes together add remaining water to the center and stir with the knife to bring in the remaining flour, working from the center outwards, so as to minimize the amount of dough that sticks to the side of the bowl. Dough should be sticky, but not smooth at this point.
  3. Cover the top of the dough loosely with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 10 minutes so flour hydrates and gluten bonds form.
  4. After 10 minutes, dip hands and bread scraper in water to prevent dough from sticking. Loosen dough from sides of the bowl and gently work into a smooth ball.
    Steps 1-4
  5. Lightly pour olive oil on counter or marble working surface and spread with hands to oil both your hands and surface.
  6. Grab the dough with oiled hands and  bring to the oiled counter to gently stretch the dough into somewhat of a rectangle shape. DO NOT pull or tear at dough — you just want to gently work it from the center to the outside to reshape.
  7. While gently stretching the dough by grabbing one end, pull it up and fold like a letter into thirds. Right side folded first, then left side over that {stretch and pull, but don’t let the dough tear}. Then take the opposite ends that were just folded and fold into thirds again — top to the center and the bottom over that, stretching and folding. In the end, you will have almost a square shape. 
    Steps 5-7

  8. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying out for 10 more minutes.
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 two more times, so you will have stretched and folded and let rest for a total of 3 times. After the 3rd stretch and fold, allow the dough to rise for 1 hour, covered with plastic wrap.
  10. After 1 hour rise, very lightly flour the surface and remove dough from the bowl to the counter. Spread and fold a 4th time and then start to form into a smooth ball by grabbing the edges and tucking the dough under itself, turning as you smooth and round the ball.
  11. Generously add corn meal to a bread banneton {or place a clean towel in a small bowl and flour the towel}. Generously flour your hands and pick up the ball of dough, adding it to the basket or bowl, smooth side down, so your tucking seam is facing up. Gently pinch the seam to smooth the top of the dough facing up.
    Step 11: Smooth side down, pinch to close the tuck seam.
  12. Cover with plastic wrap and let allow for a 2nd rise for 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile make sure your rack is in the center of the oven, with no rack above it and turn on your oven to 500 ºF with a pizza stone, piece of slate or terra cotta tiles on the rack to come to temperature with the oven. Also, if you have good solid garden rocks that don’t run the risk of exploding due to air pockets, place those in a metal roasting dish on the floor of the oven, providing you don’t have coils there.
    Step 12: Final rise
  13. With 10 minutes remaining on your rise, boil water in a tea kettle to pour over the rocks to create steam once the bread baking begins.
  14. After rise is complete, work quickly {so you don’t lose your heat} to dump dough from your basket onto the hot slate or pizza stone and using your sharpest knife or a bread lame, slash a fairly deep cut across the center and in any design you would like. Cutting the dough will open it up to expand upward, giving you good rise and will also look beautiful! Pour boiling water onto your rocks in the roasting dish quickly close the oven to allow the steam to work its magic.
    Step 14: Dump on cooking stone, slash, add water, and close!
  15. Turn oven down to 450ºF and cook for ~30-40 minutes.
  16. Around 30 minutes, be sure to smell for any burning — remove immediately if necessarily. When bread has a nice dark crust, remove to the counter and while holding with one hand (use an oven mitt) check the temperature of the bread by inserting a thermometer in the bottom of the bread. If it reads 200-205º, it’s done! Add back to the oven if any less than 200.
    Step 16: Check temp for 200-205 degrees

    Step 16: Check temp for 200-205 degrees
  17. The hardest part: resist the temptation to slice into your masterpiece right away, allowing it to cool for 2 hours as it completes its baking process on a wire rack on the counter.

Step 17: Let it rest!


Give it a try! Again, all credit goes to 8ate@eight. Genius!

Here's a photo of how mine usually comes out! I usually make mine with Italian spices like basil. oregano, etc... and it makes it perfect for bread dipping. Yum!

Pretty awesome, huh?