Sunday, January 7, 2018
I made bread fairly regularly, but I don't know that I'm any good at it. I can tell you that when I used a modified version of the below to make my very first fougasse, it was the best loaf of bread I'd made in my life.
The part that I modified was baking one half of the dough on the same day as making the dough. Peter Reinhart is an advocate for cold and slow fermentation -- of assembling the dough and putting it in the fridge, where you then take a chunk off on the day you want to bake. And I often use one of his dough recipes in this very format.
But this time, I was hungry for bread that day, and baked a loaf the same day. Again, best crust I've ever manufactured, and a nice taste to the bread. In fact, it was a far superior loaf to the other half, which I baked a few days later.
Pain a l'Ancienne Rustic Bread (modified)
from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day
4 1/2 c unbleached bread flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 c chilled water
Combine flour, yeast, salt and water in a mxing bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low for 1 minute. Dough should be coarse and sticky. Let dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled work surface. With wet hands, knead dough a few times until the dough is significantly firmer, though still soft and fragile. Place dough back in the bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Repeat this kneading process three more times, completing all repetitions within 40 minutes.
After the final stretch and fold, divide the dough into half. Place one half in an oiled, but covered, bowl that you place in the fridge; will keep for future baking up to 4 days.
For the other loaf, shape gently into a log and, using scissors, snip two holes into the bed -- these holes should go all the way through. Using your fingers, make the holes big enough that they will remain holes even as the dough rises.
(If using the picture above, follow the example of the middle and bottom holes. Not the top hole, which I made sideways.)
Cover with a light towel or plastic wrap and let rest until doubled in size -- I waited about 2 hours.
About 45 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 550, or as high as it will go. (Mine will only go to 500.) Make sure your baking stone is already in there.
(Traditional fougasse is unflavored. But I topped mine with a mix of poppy seeds and sesame seeds. It was delicious.)
When dough is done rising, slide dough onto the stone. Pour 1 c of hot water into a disponsible bread tin and place in oven, next to dough. Lower oven to 450.
Bake 12 minutes, rotate stone, and bake 15-20 minutes, until bread sounds hollow and crust is a rich brown.