Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Master Recipe

This is the recipe that I mixed together during class, and this a baguette made from the master dough.  I brushed the bread with egg, sprinkled with coarse salt, and then I poked cherry tomatoes into the dough before baking.  There are so many things you can make with this dough!  Leave me a comment and let me know what you made and how it turned out.


The Master Recipe

Makes enough for at least four 1-pound loaves.  Don’t be put off by the long instructions—the process is really simple.  Just read through them before beginning so you understand the timing.  From Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (can decrease)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) vital wheat gluten
4 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees)
1 to 2 tablespoons of whole seed mixture for sprinkling on top: sesame, flaxseed, caraway, raw sunflower, poppy, etc.

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl (at least 5 quart) until flour is well combined.  The dough will be wet and won’t form into a ball, but if it seems too sticky, add a little more flour (1/4 c at most).  You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. It takes a few minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.
  2. Allow to rise. Cover with lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approx 2 hours, depending on room temperature, and initial water temperature. Longer rising times, up to 5 hours, won’t harm the result.
  3. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature.
  4. On Baking Day:
  5. Prepare your loaf pan, tray, or whatever you’re baking it in/on. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a large grapefruit-size piece of dough (about 1 lb), using a serrated knife.
  6. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all 4 sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off – that’s fine, it isn’t meant to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will sort itself out during resting and baking.
  7. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 – 60 seconds.   If you’d like a baguette, gently form and stretch the dough into an oblong shape.
  8. Rest the loaf and let it rise in the pan, on the tray/pizza peel, for about 40 minutes (if using fresh dough) or up to 90 minutes for refrigerated dough.  Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period. That’s fine, more rising will occur during baking.
  9. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.  (optional—makes a crisp crust)
  10. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Or, instead brush the dough with water or beaten egg and sprinkle with seeds.  Slash a quarter inch deep cross, diagonal lines, or tic-tac-toe pattern on top using a serrated knife.
  11. After a 20 min preheat you’re ready to bake, even though the oven thermometer won’t be at full temperature yet. Put your loaf in the oven (use a baking stone if you have one). Pour about 1 cup of hot water (from the tap) into the broiler tray and close the oven to trap the steam.
  12. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.  Cool before slicing for best texture.
  13. Store the rest of the dough in the fridge in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days. The flavor and texture improves, becoming like sourdough. Even 24 hours of storage improves the flavor.

If you can't set aside 2 hours for the bread rise, there is an option of letting it rise in the fridge during the day, too. Just take out your portion of bread dough, and place it on the parchment paper and let it rise in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Take it out when you get home, and let it rise to room temperature for at least 30 minutes and then bake it as directed.

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