Single Loaf Batch
3 cups All-purpose or bread flour (or blend)
¼ Tsp instant yeast
1¼ Tsp salt
1 5/8 C 90 degree water
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
(Credit Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery, NYC)
4X Batch by weight
54 OZ All Purpose or blend bread flour (3# 6 OZ)
1 Tsp Yeast
2 Tbs Salt
6 ½ Cups 90 Degree Water
2#10 ½ OZ Water (Stiffer Dough)
2# 14 Oz Water (Focaccia)
2. Combine the flour and salt
3. Find a plastic bottle that holds at least as much water as you need. Measure the water and mark the level with a marker. Next time just fill to the line. Something with a big mouth is nice.
4. Sprinkle the flour mixture into the water while stirring with a stiff spat. Stir until smooth. Alternately, mix with your hands.
5. Snap on the lid and forget about it for eight to ?? hours. Room temperature or less is fine. This long ferment replaces kneading and allows more complex flavors to develop.
6. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. It will remain useable for at least twelve hours after that point, much longer if refrigerated. Lightly flour a work surface and gently scrape the dough from the bucket onto surface; fold it over on itself once or twice with a scraper. The idea here is to not knead, just gently stretch. Let rest about 15 minutes.
7. Grease or oil some kind of baking pan lightly. Consider a light sprinkling of corn meal and/or some sesame seeds in the pan. Disposable pie tins sized to fit your dutch oven work very well for this.
8. After the rest, divide dough into desired number of loaves. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, gently and quickly shape dough into balls. Gently roll the dough in the pan, cover, and let rise. Don’t look for it to double like most recipes. Just wait until it is noticeably bigger, maybe an hour at room temperature.
9. Heat oven/Dutch Oven 400-450. Place pie tin with dough in the dutch oven and cover. Time depends on loaf size, oven temperature and personal preference. Look for an internal temp of 105 or so. A winning combination is thirty minutes at 400. Thump, hear the hollow. Remember the sound and feel for next time. Observe the color, find your preference over time.
10. Some things to know: Relax. There is a lot of latitude in all this. It’s just bread. Very fresh bread is so good because the yeast and other volatile flavors are there when fresh, then not, so serve it warm from the oven if you can. Keep your tools simple and work to avoid clean up. The best way to clean a bread bucket is to let it dry and flake off. Bad bugs don’t grow well in yeast products like bread and beer. Weighing is much better than measuring because flour packs down and can vary in volume by a huge percentage.
Supplies: 1-2 small buckets w/lids, cookie sheets or pie tins, vegetable oil or lard, salt, flour, corn meal, sesame, a towel, teaspoon and tablespoon measure, cup measure, yeast, digital kitchen scale (optional), and a dough scraper. Store flour in a sealed bucket or risk moths. Relax and have fun. Food is love.