I typically make a batch of dough (see pictorial above) every other weekend, and keep it in the fridge. I use the dough over the following two weeks. The dough gets progressively wetter/runnier in consistency as time goes on, but the flavor is consistently excellent.
Here we are 1 week after making a batch of dough. Time to bake some mini-boules!
Everything I've done is designed to minimize mess and clean up of the kitchen. Obviously, you don't need to do it this way to have great results.
Hardware and software used to make the buns:
Dough, coarse ground corn meal, all purpose flour
Digital time (set to 2 hour rise time), spoon, serrated knife
Silpat lined baking sheet
I lay down cornmeal for 12 mini-boules on the silpat, and line up the tray, flour and dough containers, so when i make the buns, I'm not shedding any flour on the prep surfaces.
I flour the top of the dough in the container, and cut off a piece of dough about the size of a plum.
The piece is the rolled in flour (inside the flour container) to make it easy to handle.
I shape the boule by drawing opposite sides of the dough together, and pinching the dough to the center. By rotating the dough ball and repeatedly drawing the dough to the center, the mini-boule gradually takes on a spherical shape.
Once formed, the bottom of the boule (visible under my thumb) appears pleated, while the top of the boule is smooth and spherical.
The boule is then dropped back into the flour, and rolled around, and the excessed shaked off.
Here is the final appearance of a typical mini-boule, after shaping, and flouring. It goes onto it's cornmeal dusted spot in the baking tray. When all the buns have been made, I leave the tray out at room temp for 2 hours for the second rise.
Here we are after two hours of rise time. Above the tray, is the hardware for baking the buns: a cup to hold water, a teflon lined knife for slashing the buns, a spoon to place flour on the tops of the buns, and a spatula to move the buns to the oven (pizza stone).
With 30 minutes left in the second rise, i setup the oven: I leave a metal roasting/drip pan on the bottom rack, and a pizza stone on the rack just above. The oven is preheated to 450 degrees, convection bake. If I'm covering the buns with sesame seeds, i general lower the temp to 400 degrees to prevent the seeds from burning.
JUST prior to baking, I slash the buns. If you do this prematurely, your buns will tend to spread out, and become flatter. I start by laying down a line of flour on top of all the buns.
I make a 1/4 inch slash through the line of flour, and push the flour into the slash to keep it from resealing. Notice the teflon coated knife picks up very little dough when slashing. The slash can dramatically change the shape of the bake bun, and i highly recommend trying different styles of slashes, and different depths of slashing to see which result you like the best!
Here's a tray of criss-crossed slashed buns ready to go into the oven.
The buns can be sticky at this point, and rather floppy in consistency, making them hard to handle. My approach is to lift one edge of a bun up slightly, and slide a spatula under one edge of the bun, and lift the other side of the bun up with the finger tips (minimal handling), and transfer the bun onto the baking stone.
Here's a dozen of my guys ready to be baked. Now I push the top rack in, toss the water into the broiler pan below, shove that in, and close the oven
The bake time varies with bread, and the audience. I like a bun with a crunchy crust that puts up a fight, the rest of the family likes a softer crust. My comprise is 25 minutes at 450. Bake it 30 minutes, you've got a harder crust.
If i'm coating the bun with an protein or carbohydrate wash, and covering with seeds, i generally bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes to avoid having the seeds or the coating end up burning, and if excessive browning is occurring, i'll drop the temp to 350 and extend the bake time 5-10 minutes to finsh the bun. Adding a wash and seeds complicates matters because the coating will tend to darken before the bun is fully baked...oh well, here's a batch of my boys ready for the cooling rack.
And here is the final product..
Since starting the post, I tweaked the recipe by adding 20 gms of semolina flour..
Final Answer:1000 gms flour, 750 gms water, 20 gms semolina flour, 20 gms malt powder, 20 gms salt, 12 gms granulated yeast