Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lets bake Bread, the Leavening


For those of you baking along at home you should be here by now.
Peel off the cling film and with lightly floured knuckles punch the excess gases out of it.

Now we turn on the oven to 450F not C.  If your oven goes to 450c  you might want to take up metal work.

As the oven warms, prepare the loaf.  For this batch I am going to make two rustic loaves.  To make sure they come out even I weigh the dough on a scale.  It does not have be exact but being within a few tens of grams ensures consistency.  This dough came in at near 1100 grams, which will produce two medium sized loaves at 550 gram.  I have baked the whole round as one piece, but the I find it tricky to get the inside cooked without getting a dwarf bread like outer shell.

After you weigh out the dough, it is time to shape the bread.  I like to fold it in on itself a few times. Form the dough into a cylinder about 20 cm long. Run your thumb along the surface creating a deep groove, fold the bread in on itself.  Fold the ends in the same way repeat a few times.  This helps to remove any remaining excess gas.  If the dough is not to dry the suture will seal seamlessly.
One of two loaves, No I do not
bake them on this.

I like to roll it across a lightly floured counter a few times, it helps obliterate the seams.  If the ends start to get thicker then the middle, work inward from the ends rolling it under your hands.  For this I pinched the ends to give them a bit of a point. Honestly at this point you can experiment with the shape of the loaf.  But bear in mind that it affects baking time.

A lot of a peel
Once you have your bread shaped, cover it up and place it back in a warm spot while you wait for the oven to heat through.  I have yet to make this bread in a bread pan but I suspect it would have good results once you got the baking times sorted. I will be baking this on a pizza stone in the oven, something of a peasant loaf.  If you lack a baking stone, shame on you, place some cornmeal on a baking sheet and place the loaves on this to rise. I will be loading the oven with the aid of a wooden peel so the bread rise on a separate plates because the dough would stick to the peel which is the last thing you want.

Now that your oven is hot it is time for the blacker magic.
Steam.  To get both the maximum rise and a softer crust I load a pyrex pie plate with hot water on the the shelf below the bread.
Cut deep the stuff wants to expand

The baking instructions are as follows.
Place steam source in oven.
Load bread.  Bake for 15 min at 450.
Remove, with great caution the steamer.
Turn oven down to 400 bake for 25 or so minutes.  If you have doubt take the temperature of the bread.  The successful loaves were moist and cooked at internal temp of 200F. Seriously probing bread is worth it.

In retrospect this batch could have handled a little more flour, it was very soft at time of deployment.  For style I dusted the loaf before slashing it.  You want to cut it deeply, it is a very moist bread with lots of gas, it want to balloon.

Depending on the quirks of your oven, it would likely be a good idea to rotated the bread part way through the bake.  I know my oven runs hotter in the back, and sides of the breads that face each other brown less than the outward sides.
And after 15 min under steam at 450, and 23 min at 400 you have bread.  The internal temp reads 200, I don't know how well calibrated that probe. You can't hear it in the picture but the bread was crackling.

See that was easy.  Now I have to go for a walk, my house is hot now.

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