I’ve had a bit of a bread epiphany recently. You know that Stephanie Alexander bread I posted about a while back, the one that’s become our daily bread? I’ve improved it. Or maybe it’s improved me. Anyway, I’ve slightly changed the way I make it, which has made a world of difference. It was good before, but now I’m consistently getting lovely, light, airy loaves that seem to stay fresher for longer (even though we are now eating them quicker).
The original post is here, but this is what I do now:
Daily Bread 2.0
The major changes are that I mix the dough a little differently, use a little less flour and handle it in a more gentle fashion. I’ve recently read Bake! by Nick Malgieri, which has opened my eyes to a whole swag of new (to me) methods. More about him another time…
700g unbleached strong flour (I use half Italian 00 and half ‘high grade’)
200g wholemeal strong flour
1Tbsp instant dried yeast
1Tbsp fine salt
2Tbsp olive oil
600ml lukewarm water
polenta or semolina for baking
Put the lukewarm water into the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook, then sprinkle over the yeast. Leave for a minute or two, then stir in the wholemeal flour and olive oil with a spatula. Add half of the white flour and stir well, then add the rest and the salt. Give it a good stir, then mix on low speed until you have a smooth but not sticky dough (about five minutes). If you don’t have a mixer, prepare to knead for about 15 minutes.
Divide dough in half (I weigh it to be sure) and put each half into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with tea towels and leave until doubled, about one hour.
Knock back by tipping each piece out onto a clean bench and pressing gently into a rectangle. Fold it over itself until you get a little bundle of dough, then shape into a ball again and return to the bowls to let rise again for about 30 minutes, covered with tea towels.
Gently form each piece into a loaf – I do this by tipping the dough out, pressing it into a rectangle shape again (but very gently) and rolling up into a fat cigar – and place on a piece of baking paper sprinkled with semolina or polenta. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C, with a heavy baking tray inside. Carefully lift the baking paper and loaves onto the hot tray and bake for about 20 minutes, then turn over and bake for another five minutes (you can remove the baking paper at this point). The base of each loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.
Have you reinvented any of your daily recipes lately? What have you done?
Its such a joy when you can improve a recipe. Looks perfect to me.
I started out as a devotee of Richard Bertinee, but not much of the bread I make these days still resembles his original recipes! Good fun working out new loaves.
One tip for NZ-ers: I've found that I consistently need to add 10-15% extra water to most recipes from overseas. Read somewhere that perhaps our flour is 'harder'.. Not sure on the science, but makes a big difference to the dough, and to the final result.