For the longest time, I have been lured by hole-y crumbs. I have tried multiple ways to bake bread to get the perfect airy bread and I have not succeeded. I have been reading about this wherever and whenever possible, be it books or Facebook posts or articles on multiple websites. Though I still haven’t attained that level of proficiency, this particular loaf has been a step up from the comparatively smaller crumb I have been getting all this while. It has helped me figure out the importance of time and temperature and how to trap air in the dough which leads to a better crumb.
One of the consistent advice I came across was to pick up the book, ‘Flour Water Salt Yeast’ by Ken Forkish and so I did. It is simply the best decision I have taken in this bread baking adventure. I have learnt a lot from this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to bake a nice loaf of bread. This is a simple white bread baked with all purpose flour. I have adapted this recipe and combined it with other stuff I have learned along the way. The main thing I learned is the magic of baking the dough covered. The oven spring is lot more when baking covered and the crust is crackling when you cut it. Simply divine!
Makes 1 loaf
WHAT WE NEED
250 gms All purpose flour
190 gms Water at 32-35C
6 gms Salt
4 gms (1 tsp) Instant yeast
WHAT TO DO
- Mix the flour and the water and set aside for 20-30 minutes
- Add the salt and yeast and mix them in well, cover and set aside
- After 15 minutes, do a stretch and fold to the dough i.e. put your wet hand at the bottom of the dough and lift half of it and stretch till you get resistance and fold it over the other half of the dough like an envelope. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the same procedure till you have done it on all four sides. Cover and set it aside
- The dough will now be tight. The next stretch and fold needs to be done after the dough has completely relaxed
- Repeat the stretch and fold after half hour from the previous stretch and fold and again after 1 hour from the previous stretch and fold
- Let the dough rest and triple in size which should take about 4-5 hours from the mixing of the yeast.
- Gently take out the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a lightly floured surface
- The dough needs to be shaped like a ball. Stretch the dough on each side and pull it backwards to make a ball
- Put it in a proofing basket or large bowl with the seam side down and set it aside
- The dough should be proofed anytime between 1 to 1 hour 15 minutes
- To check whether the dough has proofed, press it with a floured finger. If the dough jumps back immediately then it is not yet proofed. If it doesn’t come back at all then it is overproofed. If it comes back to position slowly then it has proofed just right
- Preheat the oven at 250C
- Transfer the dough to a Dutch oven or any large oven safe bowl with a lid.
- Sprinkle some flour on top and slash the dough in two or three places or any design of your choosing.
- Bake it covered for 20 minutes
- Take off the lid and bake it uncovered for 20 minutes till it attains the desired brown colour
- Some bakers like a dark loaf and so it can be baked covered for 25 minutes and uncovered for 20-25 minutes
- Take the bowl out of the oven and gently transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and let it cool completely before cutting it
- If you do not have a bowl with a well fitting lid then transfer the dough to a baking tray and cover it with an oven safe bowl. Ensure there is enough space for the bread to rise within
- If you do not have a weighing machine and need to measure the ingredients by cup then this is a nice conversion chart to use
This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017