Sunday, April 5, 2009
I'm kind of a sucker for anything called "rustic" or "peasant." It makes me feel better than eating something named "aristocratic" or "royal." Both Jim and I are from peasant stock as far back as we know about, and I'd feel silly trying to claim to be an aristocrat. Although I'll admit that I used to have fantasies about meeting a British lord and being swept off my feet by him. Then I read enough novels to realize that I had nothing to offer said British lord, so I gave up on that daydream.
But I wonder if there isn't some hungry British lord somewhere who would be say "Oh my darling, I care not for a dowry as long as you make me such wonderful bread." Probably not. Fortunately, when he first met me, Jim cared not about my dowry.
As usual, my good angel ("Eat more fiber! Eat whole grains!") was at war with my bad angel ("Why do you think people switched to white flour? Because it tastes better."). So I compromised with rustic bread which has some white, some rye, and some whole wheat.
As with most of Hamelman's breads, this one is a two-day process because it requires a pre-ferment that sits overnight. When you look at it in the morning, it's nice and bubbly, with a pleasantly yeasty smell. The pre-ferment (all white bread flour) gets thrown into the mixer in blobs after the final dough (made with all three flours) has started to coalesce.
Tossing these blobs into the dough while the KitchenAid was running was my favorite part of making this bread. I think it's because it seems like something you shouldn't do. I was a very obedient child, so it doesn't take much to make me feel like I'm doing something daring and possibly even illegal.
After all that fun, there wasn't much else left to do except fold the bread twice. (Jeffrey Hamelman is very big on folding dough).
Then the loaves are shaped and left to rise again. I used my bannetons again, which I love because they make such professional-looking bread.
During this rising, Jim and I made a quick trip to Smith & Hawken to look at their garden furniture, which was all 30% off. The trip took longer than I thought it would, and I was worried that the dough was going to be a sunken mess by the time I got home, but it still looked hale and hearty. It probably survived because my kitchen is still cold because it's still snowing in the far northland even though it's April.
A friend and neighbor of ours just came home from the hospital after surgery, so I wanted to bring her some bread, and I made chicken soup with asparagus, snowpeas, orzo and tarragon, and also Dorie Greenspan's apple bars with brown sugar-butter glaze. But for some reason I forgot to take pictures of either the soup or the apple bars, even though they were both quite successful. I do have lots of pictures of the patterns the flour makes on the bread, e.g.,
And the bread itself? It's just so ... rustic!
I'm going to give the recipe pretty much as written, but let me tell you that the first 100 or so pages of Hamelman's book are complete, detailed instructions of the various stages of bread-making, so if you really want to understand what's going on, you may want to pick up a copy of his book from the library and check it out.
--adapted from Bread, by Jeffrey Hamelman
1 lb (3 5/8 cups) bread flour
9.6 oz. (1 1/4 cups) water
.3 oz. (1/2 T) salt
1/8 tsp instant dry yeast
9.6 oz. (2 1/4 cups) bread flour
3.2 oz. (7/8 cup) whole-rye flour
3.2 oz. (3/4 cup) whole-wheat flour
12.5 oz. (1 1/2 cups) water
.3 oz. (1/2 T) salt
.06 oz (1/2 tsp) instant dry yeast
1. Disperse the yeast in the water, add the flour and salt, and mix until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for 12 to 16 hours.
2. The next day, add all the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl, except the pre-ferment. Mix on first speed of a mixer for 3 minutes until dough is formed. As the dough is coming together, add the pre-ferment in chunks. Finish mixing on second speed for about 2 1/2 minutes. The dough should be supple and moderately loose.
3. Let dough rise for about 2 1/2 hours, folding it twice during that time, once after 50 minutes and again 50 minutes later.
4. Divide the dough into two 1.5 pound pieces. Preshape lightly into rounds, cover with plastic, and let rest for 20 minutes. When it's relaxed, shape into round or oval loaves, place them in floured bannetons or between folds of floured baker's linen, and cover with plastic.
5. Let rise about 1 1/2 hours.
7. Preheat oven to 450F. Invert loaves on peel. Slash with a blade. Presteam the oven, load the bread, and steam again. Bake for 35-38 minutes.