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Recipe  •  12 May 2023

 

The Saturday white bread

This recipe is designed for someone who wants to make good, crusty loaves of white bread from start to finish in one day.

Mix the dough first thing in the morning, shape it into two loaves about five hours later, and then bake in the late afternoon in time for dinner. It’s also a good first recipe to try from this book to help you get familiar with my dough handling techniques, which are the same for all the recipes in this book. Here you get the taste-good benefits of a medium-length fermentation, resulting in a versatile, delicious bread that’s great as a dinner bread and also works well for sandwiches and toast.

Sometimes I like to make this bread with 10 percent whole wheat flour for the round, earthyflavors it adds. If you want to do that, simply make this recipe with 900 grams of white flour and100 grams of whole wheat flour.

You can bake one or two loaves from this recipe. If you bake just one loaf, you can divide theremaining dough into two or three dough balls to make iron-skillet focaccia or pizza; refrigeratethe dough balls and use them any time during the next two or three days. I love focaccia with oliveoil, salt, pepper, and maybe a sprinkling of herbs, cut into small pieces to share with friends beforedinner, or just for snacks.

THIS RECIPE MAKES 2 LOAVES, EACH ABOUT 1½ POUNDS, AND IS SUITABLE FOR PIZZA OR FOCACCIA.

BULK FERMENTATION: About 5 hours

PROOF TIME: About 1¼ hours

SAMPLE SCHEDULE: Begin at 9:30 a.m., finish mixing at 10 a.m., shape into loaves at 3 p.m., and bake at 4:15 p.m. The bread will come out of the oven just after 5 p.m.

Ingredients

  • 1,000g white flour
  • 720g water, 32°C to 35°C
  • 21g fine sea salt
  • 4g instant dry yeast

Method

  1. Autolyse Combine the 1,000 grams of flour with the 720 grams of 90°F to 95°F (32°C to 35°C) water in a 12-quart round tub or similar container. Mix by hand just until incorpo­rated. Cover and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Mix Sprinkle the 21 grams of salt and the 4 grams (1 level teaspoon) of yeast evenly over the top of the dough. Mix by hand, wet­ting your working hand before mixing so the dough doesn’t stick to you. (It’s fine to rewet your hand three or four times while you mix.) Reach underneath the dough and grab about one-quarter of it. Gently stretch this section of dough and fold it over the top to the other side of the dough. Repeat three more times with the remaining dough, until the salt and yeast are fully enclosed. Use the pincer method to fully integrate the ingredients. Make five or six pincer cuts across the entire mass of dough. Then fold the dough over itself a few times. Repeat, alternately cutting and folding until all of the ingredients are fully integrated and the dough has some tension in it. Let the dough rest for a few minutes, then fold for another 30 seconds or until the dough tightens up. The whole pro­cess should take about 5 minutes. The target dough temperature at the end of the mix is 77°F to 78°F (25°C to 26°C). Cover the tub and let the dough rise.
  3. Fold This dough needs two folds (see pages 69–70 for instructions). It’s easiest to apply the folds during the first 1½ hours after mixing the dough. Apply the first fold about 10 min­utes after mixing and the second fold during the next hour (when you see the dough spread out in the tub, it’s ready for the second fold). If need be, it’s okay to fold later; just be sure to leave it alone for the last hour of rising.
    When the dough is triple its original vol­ume, about 5 hours after mixing, it’s ready to be divided.
  4. Divide Moderately flour a work surface about 2 feet wide. Flour your hands and sprinkle a bit of flour around the edges of the tub. Tip the tub slightly and gently work your floured free hand beneath the dough to loosen it from the bottom of the tub. Gently ease the dough out onto the work surface without pull­ing or tearing it.
    With floured hands, pick up the dough and ease it back down onto the work surface in a somewhat even shape. Dust the area in the middle, where you’ll cut the dough, with a bit of flour. Cut the dough into 2 equal-size pieces with a dough knife or plastic dough scraper.
  5. Shape Dust 2 proofing baskets with flour. Shape each piece of dough into a medium-tight ball following the instructions on pages 71–73. Place each seam side down in its proofing basket.
  6. Proof Lightly flour the tops of the loaves. Set them side by side and cover with a kitchen towel, or place each basket in a nonperforated plastic bag.
    Plan on baking the loaves about 1¼ hours after they are shaped, assuming a room temperature of about 70°F (21°C). If your kitchen is warmer, they will be optimally proofed in about 1 hour. Use the finger-dent test (see page 74) to determine when they are perfectly proofed and ready to bake, being sure to check the loaves after 1 hour. With this bread, 15 minutes can make the difference between being perfectly proofed and collapsing a bit.
  7. Preheat At least 45 minutes prior to baking, put a rack in the middle of the oven and put 2 Dutch ovens on the rack with their lids on. Preheat the oven to 475°F (245°C).
    If you only have 1 Dutch oven, put the second loaf into the refrigerator about 20 min­utes before baking the first loaf and bake the loaves sequentially, giving the Dutch oven a 5-minute reheat after removing the first loaf. Alternatively, you can keep the second loaf in the refrigerator overnight, in its proofing basket inside a nonperforated plastic bag, and bake it early the next morning; if you do this, put the second loaf in the refrigerator immedi­ately after shaping.
  8. Bake For the next step, please be careful not to let your hands, fingers, or forearms touch the extremely hot Dutch oven.
    Invert the proofed loaf onto a lightly floured countertop, keeping in mind that the top of the loaf will be the side that was facing down while it was rising—the seam side. Use oven mitts to remove the preheated Dutch oven from the oven. Remove the lid. Carefully place the loaf in the hot Dutch oven seam side up. Use mitts to replace the lid, then put the Dutch oven in the oven. Maintain the tem­perature at 475°F (245°C). Bake for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the lid and bake for about 20 more minutes, until at least medium dark brown all around the loaf. Check after 15 minutes of baking uncovered in case your oven runs hot.
    Remove the Dutch oven and carefully tilt it to turn the loaf out. Let cool on a rack or set the loaf on its side so air can circulate around it. Let the loaf rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Tips

Know your oven

I recommend using an oven thermometer to confirm that when you set your oven to 245°C, youactually get 245°C. Some ovens run hotter than their setting, and some run cooler. (Mine runs 25°F cooler, so when I want to heat it to 475ºF, I set it to 500ºF.)

What if the dough isn't at the target temperature?

If the final mix temperature is cooler, don’t worry, it will just take longer to fully rise (in this case triplingin size). If you have a warm spot where the dough can rise, that will help make up for the coolerdough temperature. If your dough is warmer, the dough will triple in size sooner. (The next time youmake the recipe, you can adjust the final mix temperature by using warmer or cooler water.)

Feature Title

Flour Water Salt Yeast
From Portland's most acclaimed and well-loved baker comes this must-have baking guide, featuring scores of recipes for world-class breads and pizzas and a variety of schedules suited for the home baker.
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