Friday, January 22, 2010

Baking the Perfect Loaf of Bread at Home

Baking the Perfect Loaf of Bread at Home
Formula and Process created by Jim Lahey
Owner of Sullivan Street Bakery and Author of "My Bread."

Oh the lessons bread can teach, oh the way bread taste!
Bread and butter - it doesn't get much better than that!
3 cups (400g) flour
1½ cups (300g or 12 oz) water
¼ teaspoon (1g) yeast
1¼ teaspoons (8g) salt
olive oil (for coating)
extra flour

Two medium mixing bowls
6-8 qt. pot (Pyrex glass, Le Creuset cast iron, or ceramic)
Wooden spoon or spatula (optional)
Plastic wrap
Cotton dish towels (not terrycloth), 2 or 3
Gram scale to weigh the ingredients (we have done it without this and it's still fabulous)

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 sec. to 1 min. Lightly coat the inside of second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hrs. at room temperature (approx. 65-72'F).

Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 min. in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hrs. at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450-500'F. Place the pot in the oven at least ½ hr. Prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot steam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 min. Then, remove the lid and back 15-30min. uncovered.
Jim and I have been making this bread each weekend. We are glad Rodney passed this recipe onto us. Yes, bread and butter - doesn't get much better than this!

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