Whalechaser's Musings

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Country Bread

Well, that's the title the new cookbook "Bread...A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" by Jeffrey Hamelman, called it. It is a book I picked up while I was visiting the King Arthur Bakers Shop wile in Norwich, Vermont last month. It is the kind of book that you open and peruse; then your imagination seems to get the better of you and you just have to grab some flour, yeast and have a go at putting together some really great bread.
I have to admit that over the years I have made probably some twenty or so loaves. They were all edible but none were really what I had imagined them to be. These are better versions but still not quiet what I had in mind. It was the first time I worked with a pre-ferment (this is a small batch of flour water and yeast mixture) prepared the day before and then worked into the actual recipe the next day (or even later in some cases).

Anyway, I didn't get all the steps in quite the right order and yet the finished product is quite tasty. The texture is very substantial (you can't tear it very easily) and when it is toasted with butter and jelly...well now you're talking about some pretty good tasting bread!

This is the pre-ferment. When I first made it it was a pretty hard and dry looking lump, but after siting in the oven with the light on overnight...it relaxed and grew into this.
The next step was to mix the pre-ferment with the remaining ingredients of the bread recipe, this sure beats doing it by hand...and yet I missed working the dough with my hands prior to letting it rise.

Here is the batch all mixed by machine. now just a few folds and several rises and folds....

And here is a picture of the final product. I was hoping for a dome shaped rounded loaf, but my version of the dough was way to loose for anything like that so I divided it up into two loaf pans and went on from there.

This is probably the best tasting bread for toast that I have ever had!

I ended up with two loaves, so it will be a while before I try it again but as the following pictures indicate, it was a fun process:

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