Sunday, April 13, 2008

The perfect loaf of home-made bread

I should have taken a picture of it. It was beautiful.

I've been perfecting this recipe for a number of years now. I started out trying to make a nice crusty Italian loaf. Then I added ground flax seed. Then I added other whole grains and things. Then I experimented with some white whole wheat flour.

Here's the recipe I've come up with.

3/4 cup water
2 cups bread flour (unbleached)
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast

3/4 cup water
1-3/4 bread flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
3 tablespoon mixture of ground flax seed and ground sunflower seeds
1/4 oat bran
1/4 wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon malt powder
1/2 tablespoon gluten
1 teaspoon instant yeast

I start the night before. I make the biga in the bread machine and leave it there. I let it go through the dough cycle and leave the machine on all night. It will keep it slightly warmer than the rest of the kitchen, and the biga will do it's fermentation. Somewhere I read if I'm not going to make the bread the bread the next day, I need to take it out of the bread pan, put it in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge, where it can stay up to 3 days. If you do this, get it out and let it come to room temperature before you use it in dough.

In the early afternoon, I make the rest of the dough. I take the biga out of the pan and put it on a sparayed cutting board (sprayed with oil. Then I use my bread cutter thing to cut it into about 10 pieces and let it sit while I make the rest of the dough.

My pan has you put stuff in the pan in the order I have listed it, water then bread then extra ingredients then yeast last. I do this but I try to have some of the flour lannd on top of the whole grains so it will mix better. I measure out the flax annd sunflower seeds together into my coffee grinder and grind them into a powder -- so the measure is really for the whole seeds than the groud mixture. Adding ground flax and sunflower seeds supposedly gives you all of the essential fats you need in one dose.

On top of the dough ingredients, I lay the pieces of the biga and put the whole bucket into the bread machine. I watch for a couple of minutes and use a spatula to scrape the top if necessary.

90 minutes later, I have a nice big mass of bread dough. I flatten it out with my hands into a vague rectangle, roll it up, pinch the seam and place it seam side down on a piece of parchment or (last time I didn't have parchment) onto a baking stone sprinkled with corn meal. Cover and let rise about 45 min.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If you have parchment, leave the stone on the lower oven rack while the oven is preheating. Transfer the bread to the stone by lifting and sliding the parchment carefully. Throw 2 tablespoons of water over onto one side of the oven and quickly shut the oven door. Set a timer for 1 min. and repeat, throwing the water onto the opposite side of the oven. Close the oven door, turn the temperature down to 400 and set the timer for 30 minutes.

When it's done, resist the urge to cut it for 20 minutes or so. Enjoy!

No comments: