Week 62: Workhorse loaf

Months after I bought my Le Creuset, I finally found the time and energy to break it out for my very first loaf of no-knead bread. And I have to say, once you bake your loaf in a cast iron pot, you don’t go back. Ever. It is difficult to believe the smell coming from the oven from a simple flour-water-salt-instant yeast loaf! Serious. That was all that is. Not even overnight proofing. Just the standard double proof, the first one in room temperature and the second one in the fridge.

I went through many articles about no-knead bread, but finally settled on this one. And I thought I would just go with one loaf, as, well, a loaf that big is going to last me quite a while. And to make it just that little more fancy, I also finally broke out my proofing basket and lame. My scoring technique needs improvement, but, I think the proofing basket worked its magic, and this can pass for a half decent boule.

Makes 1 large (850g) loaf

INGREDIENTS

500g bread flour, plus more for dusting

350g water at room temperature

11g salt

2g instant yeast

vegetable oil for greasing

DIRECTIONS

1) Combine flour and water in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix flour and water at low speed until they are fully incorporated and form a uniform dough. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

2) Add salt, along with instant yeast, and mix at low speed until salt and yeast are fully incorporated and dough is smooth.

3) Turn stand mixer up to medium-high speed and mix until the dough feels elastic and bounces partway back when indented with your thumb, about 3-5 minutes.

4) Working with oiled hands, gently transfer dough, being careful not to tear its surface, to a lightly oiled mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Uncover dough and fold it in half, being careful not to compress it too much. Re-cover with plastic wrap and let stand until dough has increased in volume by half, about 1 hour 30 minutes longer.

5) Shape the dough into a boule by folding the dough under itself to create a smooth surface with a seam on the bottom. Let dough rest, seam-side down, for 5 minutes.

6) Dust the top of the dough with flour then transfer the dough ball, seam-side up, to a proofing basket lined with a lightly floured linen cloth or plain, not-fuzzy kitchen towel. Refrigerate dough ball until dough has nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes.

7) Meanwhile, set a Dutch oven on the oven’s bottom rack and preheat oven to 260°C (if your oven has a convection setting, do not use it).

8) Remove loaf from the refrigerator and gently turn it out, seam-side down, into the preheated Dutch oven. Score the full surface of the dough with 2 parallel lines roughly 3 inches apart. With a spray bottle filled with water, lightly spritz the surface of the dough. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 230°C and bake for 15 minutes longer. Uncover and bake until crust is dark brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

9) Transfer loaf to a wire rack. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

My oven only goes up to  240°C, but it worked. Honestly, I rarely enjoy plain loafs so much!

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