Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lean Bread

It's been over a month since my last post and although I took a brief hiatus from blogging after I completed the BBA challenge, I haven't stopped baking.  Today I baked a new recipe from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day: Fast and Easy Recipes for World-Class Breads.  The recipe I chose was "Lean Bread".  It's called "lean" because it doesn't use any enrichment--no sugar, milk, butter, eggs, etc.--just flour, water, salt and yeast.  It also involves very little kneading and is similar to the popular no-knead recipes.  I was especially pleased with the nice airy holes in the crumb and the crust was delicious as well.  I almost forgot to score the first loaves I put in but luckily Rachel reminded me. :)

If you want to try your hand at Lean Bread, the following should get you started.

5 1/3 cups of bread flour (680g)
2 tsp salt (14g)
2 tsp instant yeast (6g)
2 1/4 cups of lukewarm water ~95F (510g)

Combine dry ingredients in mixer bowl and then add water.  Mix on low speed for 2 minutes.  The dough should be quite sticky and "shaggy" but all flour should be hydrated.  After mixing, use a wet dough scraper to transfer the dough into a clean bowl that has been sprayed with cooking oil.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Wet hands with water to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.  Pick up the dough from one end and fold it over itself.  Fold from each side.  Flip the dough over and tuck into a ball.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  Repeat the folding process three more times and let dough rest for 10 minutes between folding.  After the 4th and last folding, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

On the next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator 2 hours before baking.  Transfer the dough to the counter using a wet dough scraper.  Divide the dough in half and shape each half into torpedo loaves or baguette's.  Prepare a peel or the back of a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust with semolina flour or cornmeal.  Place the shaped loaves on the peel or pan, cover and let rise for 60 minutes.

After 60 minutes remove the cover to let the crust start to dry out.  45 minutes before baking, place a baking stone in the oven with a broiler pan for water and heat the oven to 550F (or as high as it goes).

After letting the oven and stone heat up, score the tops of the loaves and slip onto the baking stone.  Carefully pour a cup of hot water into the hot broiler pan and close the oven, reducing the heat to 450F.  Let bake 5 minutes.  Remove the hot broiler pan and dump out the extra water.  Bake for another 5 minutes.  Rotate the loaves to encourage even baking and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until crust is a golden brown. 

Remove and let cool for 1 hour before eating.  Enjoy.