Thursday, April 28, 2011

a kind-of-quick bread recipe

bread i

Last Tuesday was Grandma Ryan's 100th birthday, so Annie and I had a little party to celebrate. It was right after I had worked six days in a row, so I was not able to do much cooking in advance, but I knew just the bread recipe to make when you hope to impress but are pressed for time. It's an adaptation of 'Pain Rustique' from Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman. It turns out with a really pretty crust and nice big festive holes in the crumb, and is hardly any work. You have to start it about a day before you bake it, but it only requires very brief spurts of activity. Here's how it's done:

Easy Country Bread

Makes two loaves

for the poolish:
11oz bread flour
11oz water
a pinch of instant yeast

for the final dough:
all of the poolish
11oz bread flour
4oz water
0.4oz salt (2t)
1t instant yeast

In the morning before the day you plan to bake, mix the poolish ingredients together in your mixer bowl, cover, and let rise till about an hour before you go to bed.

Add the flour and water for the final dough to the poolish and stir till the ingredients just come together into a shaggy mass. Let rest for about twenty minutes, then add the salt and yeast and mix on medium speed for 2-5 minutes, depending on your mixer. I do it two minutes in my Electrolux, but a Kitchenaid would need a little longer. Let it rest twenty more minutes, then stretch-and-fold it once before you go to bed.

Stretch and fold it once more in the morning while you're making your tea, then let it rest for another hour. Transfer the dough to a floured cloth or board, cut it in half, and shape into two rough rectangles. Preheat your oven (with a baking stone in it) to 475°F. Cloak the dough rectangles with flour and let them rise, covered with a linen tea towel, for another hour, then transfer them to a parchment paper lined peel and then onto the baking stone. Squirt with water a couple of times in the first five minutes of baking, and start checking after half an hour. They're done when their internal temperature is at least 205°F.

work lunch