Monday, May 11, 2009

Rosemary Slabs from Acme Bakery

Saturday, May 9, 2006

This bread was as flavorful and satisfying as last week's was dull and disappointing. It's from Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking, which is one of the three bread books that I find both consistently good and very readable. (The other two are Carol Field's The Italian Baker and, of course The Bread Bible). The recipe is adapted from The Acme Bread Company in Berkeley. (When Elizabeth was visiting colleges, we went to Berkeley--how I wish I'd known about this bakery then! Someday I hope to take a cross-country trip, visiting all the iconic bakeries in the country). But back to the bread.
It's a very easy bread, but it does take time. You must start it on Friday night to have it ready for Saturday dinner because, although no step is difficult, there is only a very modest amount of yeast in the bread, so its risings are slow. The poolish is made with only 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast, which is mixed in a cup of water. Only 1/4 cup of this yeast water is used, so the poolish really has only about 1/16 teaspoon of yeast. After 12 hours, however, it is bubbling satisfactorily.

In the morning, or 12 hours later, the poolish is mixed with a little more yeast, flour, chopped rosemary, water, and olive oil. It's a very soft, sticky dough, which is folded three times in the first hour.

After its third folding, the dough is a little more tractable. It can then be left alone for another five hours. Yes, seriously--five hours. While it's sitting in its big bowl, you can go out in your garden and start planting flowers, eat lunch, finish the Saturday crossword, and do some laundry. Eventually the dough doubles in size. Then you cut it in half and let it rest for a while (because it's been working so hard the last six hours). After that, you shape them into rectangles and put them into a couche (or a makeshift couche) for another hour and a half.

And you are still not done because they need to be shaped into a 12 x 6-inch rectangle, dimpled all over, and let them proof for yet another two hours.

If you are a fussy, obsessive person, you will get out your tape measure and make sure they are really 12 inches by six inches. Otherwise, you'll guess.

The only thing I had a problem with was flipping them over after five minutes of baking. They're on the next-to-the-top shelf of the oven, which is quite high in my oven, and the oven is very hot. The flipping process did not go smoothly and one of the loaves ended up scarred. But such scars can be hidden, and when the bread is sliced, no one will notice.

The texture is attractive and the flavor is quite toothsome.

That's a little piece of rosemary you see in the picture, by the way, not mold.
Much as I enjoyed this bread, I thought it came up a bit short if compared to Rose's rosemary focaccia, which has the added flavor elements of olive oil and sea salt on top. But if you don't compare it to an old favorite, it's quite enjoyable.

--from Artisan Baking, by Maggie Glezer

1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 c. water, 110 to 115 degrees F.
2 cups (300 grams)unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups (295 grams) water

Whisk the yeast into the cup of water and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the yeasted water to the flour, then beat in the lukewarm water. Cover with plastic wrap and let it ferment overnight for about 12 hours.

3 cups (450 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. (16 grams) salt
4 teaspoons fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
3/4 cups (170 grams) lulkewarm water
1 Tbsp. (30 grams) olive oil.

By stand mixer: Combine the flour, salt, rosemary, and yeast in the mixing bowl. Add the water and oil to the poolish, and pour into the flour mixture. Mix with dough hook on low speed until rough dough forms. Cover the bowl and let rest for 10 minutes. Mix the dough another five minutes, until very smooth.

Place the dough in large oiled container and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough ferment until doubled in bulk, about six hours. Turn the dough 3 times during the first hour of proofing.

Cut the dough in half. Round the pieces and let rest for 20 minutes. Press dough into rectangle. Fold into thirds like a business letter, place seam side down in couche and cover with a flap of the couche. Repeat with other piece of dough. Let them proof for about 1 1/2 hours.

Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Press each piece into a 12 x 6-inch rectangle. Press your fingertips into the dough to dimple all over. Move the dougoh onto the parchment paper and reshape. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof another two hours.

Place race on oven's second to top shelf and place a baking stone on it. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Poke the dough all over with a skewer. Slip the breads, still on the parchment, onto the hot stone and bake for five minutes. Flip the breads over onto the stone and remove the paper. Continue baking until they are well browned, about 20 minutes more, rotating them after 10 minutes. Let the breads cool on a rack.


Melinda said...

As usual, your post is a delight to read.
The bread looks perfect. I love that texture.
What did you eat with it?

P.S.What a lovely towel/couche! I love seeing it being used. x

breadbasketcase said...

Usually we eat fresh bread mid-afternoon, with wine and cheese. This would have been perfect for that, but it takes so long--all that resting--that it wasn't ready to eat until 7:00, so we had it with dinner: grilled salmon and asparagus. It was nice with that too.
The faux couche is quite lovely, isn't it?

evil cake lady said...

BBC, The word "slab" applied to food doesn't make it sound so appetizing--but your commentary and photos prove otherwise!

breadbasketcase said...

When I realized I was going to be able to bake a Slab o' Bread, I couldn't resist!

Doughadear said...

I love flat breads and this one looks wonderful. I am glad to see that I am not the only obsessive one when it come to baking bread. I usually have my ruler close at hand.

breadbasketcase said...

Yes, this tape measure is usually covered with flour. Couldn't we call it precise instead of obsessive?

Goody said...

The tape measure bit reminded me of my mother. You don't by chance iron and neatly fold your dust rags before placing them in a drawer, do you? Colour-coordinate the linen closet?

A slab of bread sounds good to me-and it is pretty hard to go wrong with rosemary.


breadbasketcase said...

My mother ironed sheets, but even she didn't iron dust rags. I'm not that crazy, but I do like to measure. I wish I would have squared the corners a little better, so they would have looked more like slabs.

Marty said...

I agree about "Artisan Baking". Having a great time with the book. Next is Sullivan Street Pizza. 109% hydration, but it appears it come together like ciabatta in "The Bread Bible", hope so. We'll see.

breadbasketcase said...

Sullivan Street Pizza is on my list of things to bake too--the list is getting way too long, so I either have to stop adding or bake more.

niji said...

Hello! I was wondering if you could help me with a problem. I am going camping in a couple of weeks for a few days and was wondering what type of bread would last the longest and still taste the freshest. I have tried and failed before at guessing what would work and wind up with stale dried out bread and rolls. I bake all kinds of bread, i just can't think of which type would be best and tastiest for my purpose. I would rather not be tossing cinnamon rolls to the squirrels again this year.

Any help would be appreciated,

breadbasketcase said...

Excellent question. I usually slice and freeze bread after the first day, and use it for toasting. I think that baguettes and other doughs that are just flour, water, yeast, and salt are the worst. Breads that have eggs and butter (like challah and brioche) seem to have good staying power, and would also make good French toast for your last-morning-in-camp breakfast.
Anyone else have ideas for specific recipes that would stay the course and not provide squirrel fodder?

Melinda said...


pinknest said...

Ooh, love the slab form! And all those lovely holes on the inside. Looks scrumptious.

breadbasketcase said...

Crackers. That's smart. But you can't make French toast from leftover crackers on the last day.

I just love to say "slab."

Flo Makanai said...

Hi Marie,
I've just discovered your blog and it's quite interesting.
Too bad there is no easy way to get to earlier posts at the end of your front page, though.

Anonymous said...

Flo, haven't you got the list at the side with all the past dates! I have read this blog through more than once , it is so good, all of it! It should be published as a book in my opinion. You can learn such a lot from it as well.

breadbasketcase said...

Sorry if you're having any trouble navigating the blog. I'll admit to not being brilliant about setting up a blog, so I pretty much did what blogger told me to do.

You are so sweet! Thank you.

Vicki said...

Have you stopped baking bread?

breadbasketcase said...

No, but I can see why you'd ask--there hasn't been a new post for quite a while. I'm doing the cake blog, but I hope that I can keep up on both of them--I can't stop baking bread!

Anonymous said...

Just been over to your new blog but couldn't leave a comment, sorry, I couldn't work out how to do it! But I'm glad to see you haven't given up blogging I was wondering why you hadn't posted for weeks, now i know!!! Melinda and I had the privilege of seeing the proof book of Heavenly Cakes, I have put in my advance order now and can't wait to get my greedy little hands on it. Jeannette

breadbasketcase said...

It's fixed now. You should be able to comment.

GinaG said...

Sourdough bread! It definitely has a longer shelf life, at least 5 days, and as previously and well-advised, you can make French Toast with it.

Some things which will extend the shelf life of bread--both Sourdough and others--is to use a piece of dough from a former batch. Also, an overnight retard in the fridge. Improves flavor, crust and crumb, shelf-life: Win-win!