It has been a long time since I posted to this blog. Not because I wasn’t baking mind you, but because I had nothing new to add and had little time for experimentation. Things changed recently and I have found myself experimenting again.
I recently bought another baking book called, “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”. This is a reprinted edition of an older work. The main premise of the book is that in 5 minutes of active effort, you can have fresh bread every day. To be fair, even though I am quite experienced, I probably still invest more like 10 minutes, but that is still not much for good bread each day. The trick behind it, is to make a lot of dough, and use smaller portions of it to make loaves each day, leaving the remainder to continue improving in the refrigerator. They also use a wet dough approach, like most sourdough artisan bakers.
I made up a peasant loaf recipe, with their standard peasant dough combination, which is not terribly different from some of my lighter mixed grain breads. I then let it rise for about 3 hours (my kitchen is considerably cooler than most US kitchens appear to be, so 2 hours is too short). After that, I placed a lid over it (not tightly, just as I do for sourdough) and placed it in the refrigerator to develop over night. The next morning I sprinkled some flour on the top of the dough, and using a serrated knife cut off around 500g of dough (around a third). I did a very quick shaping into a boule and placed it on the peel, which had been liberally dusted with cornmeal, to rest for 90 minutes.
At 50 minutes I turned on my oven with the stone and the tray for the water already inside. I have a gas oven and need to set it to Gas Mark 9 (highest temperature) for 40 minutes to get it to roughly 235° C (baking temperature, my oven doesn’t get hotter).
Once the oven was ready, I dusted the loaf on the peel fairly thoroughly with flour and using a serrated bread knife, I cut several scores in the top of the dough, roughly 1 cm deep.
Using the peel I then placed the loaf on the baking stone in the upper middle of the oven and poured about a cup of hot tap water into the pan below to provide for steam. The oven door was then closed to retain the heat and moisture. I set timer for 35 minutes and let it bake.
I then removed it from the stone using the peel (with a little help from a metal spatula). The result was everything you could hope for. It looked great, and after giving it an hour or a bit more to cool on a cooling rack, it tasted great!