Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Revolutionary Way to Bake Bread

I have heard rave reviews about this bread cookbook, and it kept creeping up on me. I first heard about it from some wonderful folks from Holden,  then from my pastor, and recently from a fellow graduate student. So I bought it - I figured if it was that popular and so highly recommended, it was worth giving it a closer look.

This weekend, I decided to leave my trusty, and good, whole wheat bread recipe and try out a new way of baking bread. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. The loaf was moist, light, and hard to resist considering we devoured the first loaf already... 

The basic premise of this cookbook is that "Pre-mixed, pre-risen, high-moisture dough keeps well in the refrigerator." (pg. 3) The idea is that you start with a simple recipe, make it in a large quantity, store it in the refrigerator and use only what you need each time (and the book includes many different, enticing and beautiful recipes). 

So, I would highly recommend picking up your own copy of this book, but I am happy to share the basic idea with you if only to convince you. 

I altered the actual recipe to incorporate whole wheat flour, and this is what I used: 

3 cups warm water 
1½ Tbs active dry yeast
1½ Tbs salt 
3 cups unbleached white bread flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup rye flour
1 Tbs vital wheat gluten 

First, mix the salt, yeast and warm water in a large, 5-6 quart bowl, preferably one that has a lid. Pro-tip: if you mix in the bowl that you are going to use for storage, you won't have that dish to wash! 

Then measure out the flour in a separate bowl. 

Pour all the flour into the yeasty water at once.

Mix with a wooden spoon until there is mixture is uniform. DO NOT NEED. You don't knead too.

Then leave it to rise for 2 hours in a warm place, covered with the lid but not sealed. It should not be airtight.

Appreciate those microorganisms working to make your bread wonderful.

And put the mixture into the refrigerator overnight, or at least a minimum of 3 hours. Keep this dough for up to 14 days. 

When you are ready to bake, sprinkle the surface of the dough and pull out a large softball to grapefruit sized chunk of dough. 

Shape the dough in less than 60 seconds, coating it generously with flour.

Let is rise for 40-60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450ºF.

Then bake for 30 minutes, or until it is nicely browned.

Thanks to Ross for the nice photos! He has photographer in his genes. 

This cookbook is brilliant. Now I have a large quantity of dough ready and waiting for me to use for pizza night, or for another loaf, or for free-from artisan bread, or for snacks during our Mountaineers class, or for the potlucks for my Agroecology class that surprisingly really stress me out. And to think - rather than fretting about bread storage, I could have just stored the dough and had it fresh all the time! 

Here's to even simpler, stress-free, homemade and REAL bread! 


Cassie said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Right?! I didn't believe it at first, but it is so, so good (the method and the bread)!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

'Five minutes a day' bread and the recipe from the Holden Village cookbook are my absolute favorite bread recipes. I've gone through phases of making each nearly every week :)