My farmhouse kitchen is a joke at the moment with a sink and a stove and zero counter or cabinets. I have a 2 foot square piece of plywood sitting on top of the un-installed dishwasher that is serving as both the drying towel for dishes and holds the espresso machine … priorities for goodness sake.
Still, I vowed I would start to learn to make bread once I was moved in and so I did. With my mother visiting, I took the opportunity to try my hand at baking bread while I has a chance to get some advice and critique.
The base recipe is by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François via a feature in the Mother Earth News (via Lifehacker). The long and the short of Jeff and Zoë’s bread is this, “take some dough from the fridge, shape it, leave it to rest, and then let it bake while you’re preparing the rest of the meal.”
The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf)
Makes 4 1-pound loaves (6C-W, 3T-S, 3T-Y, 13C-F)
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1 1?2 tbsp granulated yeast (2 packets)
- 1 1?2 tbsp coarse kosher or sea salt
- 6 1?2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour
It’s easy to remember using the “6-3-3-13” rule. The full recipe makes enough for eight “one meal” loaves. It’s 6 cups water, 3 tablespoons salt, 3 tablespoons yeast, and 13 cups of flour.
I put the warm water in my stand mixer and added the yeast. After about 5-10 minutes, I added the salt and stirred briefly. Next, I turned the mixer on “2″ with the bread hook and started to measure and add the flour one cup at a time about as fast as I could measure it. (A measure is a 1 cup scoop of flour, un-sifted, and leveled with a knife.) The entire mixing time was only a few minutes. I took a large plastic container and did a light spray of corn oil before transfering the dough and then covered and put it on top of the refrigerator for 2+ hours. (The top of the refrigerator is usually 5+ degrees warmer than the rest of the kitchen so it helps the dough rise.) The dough was done so I stuck it in the refrigerator.
I started the day this morning by cutting off a ball of dough. The authors suggest it be the size of a grapefruit but I’m not convinced that makes a large enough loaf for my use – but I did as instructed. I curled the sides down under to create a smooth top on the ball of dough and let it rest for 45-60 minutes on a pizza peel which has a dusting of cornmeal. I placed an old cast iron pan in the oven and pre-heated to 450 degrees. I slid the boule (ball of dough) into the hot pan and put it back into the oven with a little tray of water on the rack below the iron pan. 20 minutes later I pulled out the bread.
The bread was “stock” so I wouldn’t call it outstanding but at the same time it was my first home made bread and it was “real bread” !
Next, I decided to fire up the built in griddle on the new stove. I made grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches with the home made bread.
The results were even better than the picture suggests. Of course, my mother – not being one to let me get heady in the kitchen – commented, “the tomato and cheese would be better with some bacon” added. She – as mother’s usually are – was right.
This will become the base as I start tot create my own breads. I will also be cutting a large unglazed terracotta tile down to fit in my baking oven as a low cost baking stone.
If you are into making bread or interested in trying, read the Mother Earth article and visit Jeff and Zoë’s blog.