Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bread Revisited

A few months ago I thought I was big daddy in the house. I could make Thomas Keller's brioche with ease. I was ready to start signing autographs.

And then came the baguette.

Just look at that disgusting piece of _____. Don't say it. Don't call it bread, cause it's not. I couldn't live with such a failure. I had to improve my bread.

And so I scoured the Internet, and my local Borders, reading all I could on sites like The Fresh Loaf, and Bread Cetera, and books like The Bread Baker's Apprentice, to understand the fundamentals of bread making.

Once I believed I had learned enough, I ended my hiatus and began to bake bread once again. First came this focaccia from Ideas In Food, which I've baked probably 5 times now (and in my opinion perfected),and then came this more complicated batard, which is actually 100% whole wheat sandwich bread that I shaped into a batard. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of how my bread baking skills have improved. In the near future I will conquer my nemesis, the baguette.

Recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

soaker (mix together fully one day ahead, cover with plastic, and let sit at room temp)
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup water

poolish (mix together fully one day ahead, cover with plastic, and let sit in the refrigerator)
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
¼ tsp instant yeast
¾ cup water

2 cups whole wheat
1 1/3 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
2 tbs honey
1 egg (optional)

1. Remove the poolish and let sit at room temp for one hour before making the dough.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the flour salt and yeast.

3. Cut the poolish and soaker into small 1 square inch pieces then mix into the dough with a paddle.

4. Add the honey and the egg, mixing with a paddle until the mixture become a rough dough. Transfer to a cutting board and knead for about 10-15 until a tacky but not sticky dough is formed. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic and let rise for two hours.

5. For sandwich loaves, divide the dough in two equal pieces and place in oiled loaf pans, then let rise again for about 90 minutes covered in plastic.

6. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes until the dough is golden brown on all sides and sounds hollow when tapped.

Let cool, then enjoy!


Anonymous said...

You *should* be proud of these results. The photo of your perfect-looking focaccia is making me hungry!

CHEF said...

The bread looks pretty awesome, dude. You have to get into that "chemist's" frame of mind when making bread. It was one of the hardest things for me to learn. Always taste your raw dough for salinity, too. you can always knead a little more in if needed.

Nick N said...

thanks xoconostle, the recipe is on ideas in food blog if you want it.

chef, being more of a savory cook, it took me a while to accept that, but i think i got it now.

Maiken said...

I used this method for the baguettes and must say it was incredibly helpful! They turned out great and I am no longer intimidated by baguettes. Best of luck!