kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
[personal profile] kindkit
By request from [personal profile] st_aurafina, the recipe for the four-grain pot boule I baked last week. This comes from Kneadlessly Simple, by Nancy Baggett, which has easy, flexible recipes for awesome breads. Note that the recipe uses American measurements.

3 1/4 cups (16.25 ounces) unbleached bread flour (I believe bread flour is called "strong flour" in the UK--it's a high-protein white flour meant for bread)
1/2 cup white or yellow cornmeal, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
1/2 cup regular rolled oats or quick-cooking oats (not instant, not steel-cut)
1/4 cup light or dark rye flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 generous teaspoons table salt (adjust quantities if you're using kosher salt)
3/4 teaspoon fast-rising yeast aka "instant yeast"
2 cups very cold water
Canola or other oil for brushing on the dough

Mix the flours/grains, sugar, salt, and yeast thoroughly. Add water and stir until blended. Dough should be fairly stiff, so add more flour if needed. Brush the top of dough with oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED STEP: For best flavor, refrigerate the dough for up to 10 hours.

FIRST RISE: If you've refrigerated the dough, remove from fridge. Let rise at cool room temperature for 12-18 hours. If convenient, stir vigorously partway through rise. (Note: The dough won't really rise at this point. It will ferment and produce gluten, but you won't see much expansion in size.) When the dough is ready, there should be little bubbles on top and visible threads of gluten clinging to the bowl if you push the dough aside.

SECOND RISE: Lift and fold the dough in towards the center until it's mostly deflated. Don't stir. Brush the top with oil again and re-cover. For a regular rise, leave at warm room temperature. For a fast rise, let stand for 1 hour in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup boiling water, and for an extended rise, refrigerate for up to 24 hours and then let rise at room temperature. The length of the second rise will not affect the flavor very much. The dough should double in size.

20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 F. Put a heavy, lidded 3-5 quart pot (cast-iron or heavy enamelled metal are best, but I use a moderately heavy anodized aluminum pot and it works fine; also, the smaller the pot, the taller the bread will be) into the oven to preheat. (Note: BEFORE the pot goes into the oven, I recommend cutting out a circle of parchment paper to fit the pan bottom.) After 20 minutes, take the pot out, drop the parchment paper circle into it, and carefully coax the dough into the pot, trying not to deflate it too much. It will probably end up a bit lopsided. Just give the pan a shake or two; the dough will even out as it bakes. Sprinkle the loaf with the cornmeal and cut a slash down the center. COVER THE POT with the lid and put the whole thing in the oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 425 F. Bake, covered, on a lower rack for 50 minutes. Remove the lid and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes, until the top is nicely brown and, if you want to be absolutely sure, a thermometer in the center registers 210 to 212 F. Then bake 5 minutes more to ensure doneness. Take out the pan and turn the bread out (it shouldn't stick) onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before cutting.

My notes: I tend to use a little more water than Baggett recommends, partly because I live in a dry climate and partly because a wetter dough will form gluten more readily. I then add a little flour, if necessary, after the first rise. But the wetter the dough stays, the lighter the texture of the bread will be so long as it's baked long enough. I also work the dough a bit more between the first and second rises--I'll knead it a little bit, possibly adding a touch more flour. It helps to pull the dough together. And for the second rise, I take the dough out of the bowl and put it in a lightly oiled 9-inch pan (springform, so it has high-ish sides). I don't know why, but I seem to get a better rise that way.

As the recipe is written, the loaf doesn't taste strongly of any one particular grain, it just tastes like . . . bread. The quintessence of bread, full-flavored and earthy. (Note that the shorter the rising time, the less deep and developed the flavor will be. That's why I recommend refrigerating the dough before the first rise.) The proportion of grains can certainly be tinkered with, though. More cornmeal or oats will produce a sweeter dough, more rye will make it earthier; one thing I like to do is substitute a small amount, maybe 2 tablespoons, of rolled rye flakes for 2 tablespoons of the oatmeal. Or if you don't like rye, you can omit it and add in an extra 2 tablespoons each of oats and cornmeal. You could also probably cut the amount of bread flour and increase the amount of other grains by up to 1 cup, but since the other grains have little or no gluten, I wouldn't go beyond 2 1/4 cups bread flour (definitely use a high gluten flour if you do this!) to 2 1/4 cups other grains. It would be interesting--though I haven't tried it yet--to substitute 1/2 cup spelt flour or whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the bread flour.

ETA: This makes a biggish loaf. In the climate where I live (dry) it will keep for about three days left out, with the cut side turned down on a board. You can wrap it in plastic but then the crust softens. However, it freezes well. What I do is cut the cooled loaf into portions that are about a day's worth of bread, wrap them in aluminum foil and then stick them in a big plastic freezer bag and freeze. Even the crust stays nice this way, and if it doesn't, you can always toast or reheat a thawed portion.

Date: 2014-01-31 12:13 am (UTC)
st_aurafina: A shiny green chilli (Food: Green Chilli)
From: [personal profile] st_aurafina
Oh, that sounds great. Thank you so much - I love doing bread in my cast iron pot.

Date: 2014-01-31 02:46 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
I am now expecting this bread as soon as the weather is cooler, FYI.


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