Sunday, November 25, 2007

Basic Hearth Bread - Again

November 25, 2007
I love this bread.

It's one of the few from The Bread Bible that I've repeated--it's worth repeating because it's just about a perfect basic loaf of bread. It's chewy and crusty, and, especially with sourdough starter substituting for some of the yeast, as it did this time, very flavorful. It's also quite pretty.
The first time I made this bread, in March of 2006, I was just getting started on my year-long bread-baking project. I liked it then, even though I didn't shape it very well. I made it a second time just after our kitchen was completed--I think it was the first bread I made in the new oven. It got a little too dark, but I still liked it. This time, it was almost perfect. In fact, I doubled the recipe because I knew how much I liked this bread. (Doubling was not such a great idea, as it turned out, since the amount of dough really taxed my KitchenAid's powers. I smelled something burning and couldn't figure out what it was, since I hadn't turned on the oven. Then I realized that my mixer was working its little heart out for me.)

This hearth bread is just flour, water, and yeast, with a little honey added for a very subtle sweetness. Most of the flour is bread flour, but there's a little whole wheat--enough for color and taste. One of Rose's variations is to cut down the yeast and add some sourdough starter. I like to add some sourdough to most breads anyhow, but this one especially benefits from it. Not enough to make it sour, but just enough to deepen the flavor.
We had it with cheese and wine this afternoon.

Jim brought some cheese back from the grocery store that described itself as having a "subtle barnyard taste." I asked him why he thought that sounded inviting, but it turned out to be fine.
(It's amazing how much time I have on Sunday when I'm not writing a novel, by the way!)
And I'm making spaghetti with bacon, tomatoes, and tarragon for dinner; I expect it will go very well with that, too.


evil cake lady said...

your bread looks delicious!

so...what does "subtle barnyard" taste like? :)

breadbasketcase said...

It wasn't barnyardy at all, not even a subtle barnyard taste, although I was thinking cow manure and maybe the people who thought barnyard sounded appetizing were thinking fresh grass or something. It was quite mild.

Melinda said...

Bread looks like it would go with anything. Perhaps 'barnyard' is the new 'homely' description! So funny.

Tali said...

Will your faithful blog fans have an opportunity to read your novel?

Doughadear said...

I totally agree with you about this bread being perfect. Both the Basic Hearth and the Heart of Wheat are perfect daily breads.

rpse said...

marie, a barnyard bread goes with a barnyard wine like some burgundies.

you won't believe this but i'm in the middle of making the tom cat bread and had to add 80 grams of flour! did this happen to you? of course i added another 2 grams of salt but not more yeast!

rpse said...

p.s. i'm sorry i'm posting this on the wrong bread...but here's the latest: the dough is wonderously bubbly and so extensible i barely needs to stretch it to 12 inches infact it is now on the couche having elongated to 14 inches. it seems like despite the extra flour it is an exceptionally moist dough. my durum was in the freezer so quite fresh. i'm using harvest king flour the protein of which is higher than ap and lower than bread (this is in the spirit of full disclosure) and i suspect it will be an amazing bread but it seems quite different in behavior from what was indicated in the recipe so i look forward to your and others' comments!

rpse said...

o.k. i'm waiting for husband elliott to come home from tennis and i just had to cut into the loaf. how did i forget what a transporting experience making a new bread can be?! the texture, the flavor, if only everyone would bake bread. thank you marie for giving us the idea to make this bread and thank you maggie and dear folks at tom cat. i've never had an italian bread either from a bakery or restaurant that was its equal!
accompanying it will be 1 tin of tiny sardines and 1 tin of impeccable anchovies from italy, imported by cori brothers in sacramento ca. so only the wine is french--rosé from the luberon. ah the bliss of simplicity and perfect ingredients.

breadbasketcase said...

That's so nice of you--I'll have to read it through myself. I have a feeling it still needs a lot of work.

You always come up with the perfect accompaniments! And "The Bliss of Simplicity" sounds like it could be the title of another cookbook, which I'm sure you'll want to start as soon as the new cake cookbook is introduced.

breadbasketcase said...

Funny you should mention those two breads because I was going back and forth between those two recipes, trying to decide which one to make, and thinking that I should just bake one or the other of those two breads every week because they're so great to have on hand.

Doughadear said...

Prior to the BB I had baked numerous breads,and most were very good but I was looking for the prefect everyday bread. I knew I had found it in the Basic Hearth and the Heart of Wheat upon my first taste and it was confirmed when my daughter declared "Mom this is REALLY GOOD!" I always the double the recipe, one for now, one for the freezer.

breadbasketcase said...

Yes--when a daughter says, "Mom, this is really good!" that means you've passed the critical daughter test--one of the hardest tests around.

Roddy said...

Hi Marie,

I'd like to get started on this basic hearth bread using sourdough starter. How much starter, instant yeast, and salt did you use? I know there's a way to calculate it all out, but I would love it if you shared your measurements since you've gone through the trouble already. :)


breadbasketcase said...

I didn't change the salt at all, and I added only 1/4 cup of sourdough starter to the dough starter. Then I let the starter ferment overnight with the flour mixture on top of it. I added more yeast to the flour mixture--3/4 of a teaspoon instead of 1/2 teaspoon.
I also have a note in the margins--"Add salt!" because I have forgotten to add the salt on at least one occasion--very disappointing.