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"Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" Zoe Francois (2008–2009)

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Thanks so much for that video.  I love to SEE something being done rather than reading the directions!  Also glad to see the placement of the baking stone in the oven as suggested is different than what is stated in the book.  I would have followed the book instructions to a T.  This bread is in my near future!

I baked my first loaf tonight. This recipe is nothing if not idiot proof.

I got mixed up & did the slashing thing at the beginning of the resting/raising period instead of just before it went into the oven, but I don't think it made much of a difference. I spilled about half the water trying to pour it into the pan on the bottom shelf then, like the aforementioned idiot, opened the door to add some more. The blast of steam just about melted my head. I was feeling a lot more like Lucy Ricardo than Julia Child.

The bread is wonderful. The crust is especially delicious. I am delighted & amazed. I can't wait until I get the book.

gallery_26288_3707_41902.jpg

gallery_26288_3707_39421.jpg

pat w.


I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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I make something like this. 70% hydration stays in the refrigerator for weeks. I combine yeast and sourdough starter. I bake it inside a terracotta pot 30min covered 10 uncovered. It's my daily bread.

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. . .

I spilled about half the water trying to pour it into the pan on the bottom shelf then, like the aforementioned idiot, opened the door to add some more.  The blast of steam just about melted my head.  I was feeling a lot more like Lucy Ricardo than Julia Child.

. . .

Try this next time. Instead of pouring water into the pan, toss in a good handful of ice cubes. I gave up on the water thing after a few incidents like yours. The ice cubes seem to work much better. I don't try for a second steaming as this initial one seems to give me a great crust.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Thanks so much for that video.  I love to SEE something being done rather than reading the directions!  Also glad to see the placement of the baking stone in the oven as suggested is different than what is stated in the book.  I would have followed the book instructions to a T.  This bread is in my near future!

I baked my first loaf tonight. This recipe is nothing if not idiot proof.

I got mixed up & did the slashing thing at the beginning of the resting/raising period instead of just before it went into the oven, but I don't think it made much of a difference. I spilled about half the water trying to pour it into the pan on the bottom shelf then, like the aforementioned idiot, opened the door to add some more. The blast of steam just about melted my head. I was feeling a lot more like Lucy Ricardo than Julia Child.

The bread is wonderful. The crust is especially delicious. I am delighted & amazed. I can't wait until I get the book.

gallery_26288_3707_41902.jpg

gallery_26288_3707_39421.jpg

pat w.

What a beautiful loaf. Bravo.

Jmahl


The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Thanks so much for that video.  I love to SEE something being done rather than reading the directions!  Also glad to see the placement of the baking stone in the oven as suggested is different than what is stated in the book.  I would have followed the book instructions to a T.  This bread is in my near future!

I baked my first loaf tonight. This recipe is nothing if not idiot proof.

I got mixed up & did the slashing thing at the beginning of the resting/raising period instead of just before it went into the oven, but I don't think it made much of a difference. I spilled about half the water trying to pour it into the pan on the bottom shelf then, like the aforementioned idiot, opened the door to add some more. The blast of steam just about melted my head. I was feeling a lot more like Lucy Ricardo than Julia Child.

The bread is wonderful. The crust is especially delicious. I am delighted & amazed. I can't wait until I get the book.

gallery_26288_3707_41902.jpg

gallery_26288_3707_39421.jpg

pat w.

Gorgeous bread. Did you use all white flour?

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Thanks very much for the kind words.

Yes, it was all white flour. I had intended to use 1 cup of whole wheat, but completely forgot when I mixed up the dough. Next time it will go in.

Oh, the ice cube idea is brilliant. Thank you!

By the way, this makes great toast.

John, that sounds incredible. I wish you lived next door.

pat


I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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I don't slash and I use about 1/4th the yeast that the recipe uses.

gallery_23727_2765_47122.jpg

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...  I spilled about half the water trying to pour it into the pan on the bottom shelf then, like the aforementioned idiot, opened the door to add some more.  The blast of steam just about melted my head. ...

AND I'll bet you didn't **see** any steam in the oven, before you reopened the door...

This has do do with why Ice Cubes **appear** to be a good idea. But aren't.

You only *see* steam, when it *cools*. And condenses to a fog of water droplets.

With ice you have *lots* of cooling. Therefore some visible condensation to cold fog.

Many people (even unscientific bakers) think that the steam from a pan (or even a spray) disappears quickly and so "must" have been vented away somewhere.

Actually it just disappears because it has turned into *hot* (and so invisible) vapour.

And even when you don't see it, its there, and working hard for you.

A quick, simple experiment.

Boil a kettle hard.

Notice that, once its boiling furiously, the steam only becomes visible an inch or so outside the spout.

After its been cooled down by the air.

For bread baking, you want the hot, invisible stuff, just like in that first inch.

What you should be aiming for, is hitting the dough with *exactly* the blast that you experienced, when you reopened the oven door.

The damp air transfers heat much more quickly than the normal dry air you usually meet when you open the oven door.

As you can testify.

Fast initial heat transfer is what you are after for well-risen bread.

And some dampness. If you want it condensing anywhere, its on the dough... NOT around some really cold ice, chilling the oven.

The dough should be the coldest thing in the oven!

Pull out the bottom shelf a few inches, so you can more easily target the hot pan with the boiling water.

You don't need much, or for long.

And it doesn't need to be visible!

Don't go for the visible, but cold, fog from ice cubes.

The oven environment is supposed to be *hot*, isn't it?


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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. . .

If you want it condensing anywhere, its on the dough... NOT around some really cold ice, chilling the oven.

The dough should be the coldest thing in the oven!

. . .

Don't go for the visible, but cold, fog from ice cubes.

The oven environment is supposed to be *hot*, isn't it?

Scientific or not - it works for me! The oven is extremely hot at this point and the ice "boils" almost instantly when it hits an already very hot surface. I get lovely "crackly" crusts this way.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Pull out the bottom shelf a few inches, so you can more easily target the hot pan with the boiling water.

You don't need much, or for long.

And it doesn't need to be visible!

Don't go for the visible, but cold, fog from ice cubes.

The oven environment is supposed to be *hot*, isn't it?

Thanks for this info. I started some of the 5 minute bread (my first batch) this morning. Do I understand you correctly that I should pour boiling water into the roasting pan on the lowest rack in my oven? Then bake the bread on a stone on a rack immediately above? How much water should I use?

I really must get this book - unfortunately, it is sold out at my local bookstores and out of stock at Amazon. :sad:

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...  Do I understand you correctly that I should pour boiling water into the roasting pan on the lowest rack in my oven?  Then bake the bread on a stone on a rack immediately above?  How much water should I use?

Boiling water into a hot pan is the best way I know of to get plenty of hot water vapour into the oven air, in a domestic electric oven.

About a cupful is all that's needed.

About 1/3 of the way through the bake, (so after its fully risen and 'set'), I remove the pan, whether or not it has boiled dry.

Opening the oven to take it out allows a lot of the moisture to escape -- the crust wants much lower humidity for the last half of the bake, so that's good too.


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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...  Do I understand you correctly that I should pour boiling water into the roasting pan on the lowest rack in my oven?  Then bake the bread on a stone on a rack immediately above?  How much water should I use?

Boiling water into a hot pan is the best way I know of to get plenty of hot water vapour into the oven air, in a domestic electric oven.

About a cupful is all that's needed.

About 1/3 of the way through the bake, (so after its fully risen and 'set'), I remove the pan, whether or not it has boiled dry.

Opening the oven to take it out allows a lot of the moisture to escape -- the crust wants much lower humidity for the last half of the bake, so that's good too.

The loaf only needs steam for its first two minutes in the oven, or so says Harold McGee and Peter Reinhart. In my own experience, I've noticed that the crust gets chewy rather than crackly if left in too long. 12 minutes, assuming a 35-40 minute bake, has been too long in my experience.

Try to steam the bread for 2 minutes. I like to boil a pan of water in a stainless pan, put it into the oven (550 or higher) and leave it in there for 2 minutes. Then I take it out and reduce the heat to 450.

josh


josh

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The loaf only needs steam for its first two minutes in the oven, or so says Harold McGee and Peter Reinhart. ...

Really Josh?

I don't have McGee.

I don't know what he says about steam, but I'd hestitate to accept his contradiction of specialists.

Reinhart on page 92 of BBA, says that steam is valuable "only during the first half of the baking process".

Its possible that you may be confused by commercial oven practice with a steam lever -- giving a blast of steam on demand.

You will see various bits of advice about not using that lever to admit more fresh steam after the first couple of minutes of baking.

Hamelman says "The benefits of steam occur only during the first third or so of the baking cycle. If the baker neglects to inject steam at the time of bread loading, he or she cannot compensate by steaming the oven several minutes later. In order to ensure that the crust remains thin and crisp, it is important to finish the bake in a dry oven. For this reason, the oven should be vented or the doors notched partially open for the last portion of the bake." - (Page 27).

On page 192, Hamelman makes clear that these commercial ovens should have their vents opened (to release the damp air) "once the bread has begun to colour, usually after about 15 minutes of baking."

Dan Lepard on page 22 of The Handmade Loaf says "For the first 10 minutes of baking, the loaf needs to expand to its fullest extent ... A moist environment enables this to happen."

That's why I think I have some support for what I do myself:

About 1/3 of the way through the bake, (so after its fully risen and 'set'), I remove the pan, whether or not it has boiled dry. Opening the oven to take it out allows a lot of the moisture to escape -- the crust wants much lower humidity for the last half of the bake, so that's good too.

I actually thought that was pretty mainstream advice from the experts.


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Hmmm...

McGee (2004 edition) says,

"Steam does several useful things during the first few minutes of baking."

He mentions increasing the rate of heat transfer, prevention of a premature crust that would interfere with rising and gelating the starch to form an attractively glossy coat.

"In home ovens, spraying water or throwing ice cubes into the hot chamber can produce enough steam to improve the oven spring and crust gloss."

"Oven spring is usually over after 6-8 minutes of baking."

So I guess even the experts disagree.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Remember the domestic "steam breadmaker" ?

Those folks say

The professional baker will leave the steam in the oven for one quarter to one third of the total baking time. You can do the same. ...

http://www.steambreadmaker.com/bread_makin...read_baking.htm

There is no doubt or dispute about the value of 'steaming', or the reasons why its so beneficial, but I'm now rather mystified as to where Josh has got the idea of removing the steam pan after just 2 minutes...


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Here's what King Arthur has to say on the topic:

The benefits of steam occur only during the first third or so of the baking cycle. If the baker neglects to inject steam at the time of bread loading, hecannot compensate by steaming the oven several minutes later. In order to ensure that the crust remains thin and crisp, it is important to finish the bake in a dry oven. For this reason, the oven should be vented or the doors notched partially open for the last portion of the bake.

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Here's what King Arthur has to say on the topic:

The benefits of steam occur only during the first third or so of the baking cycle. If the baker neglects to inject steam at the time of bread loading, hecannot compensate by steaming the oven several minutes later. In order to ensure that the crust remains thin and crisp, it is important to finish the bake in a dry oven. For this reason, the oven should be vented or the doors notched partially open for the last portion of the bake.

Hi Cookman -

Jeffrey Hamelman is Director of the Bakery and Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour Company.

He is also the author of the excellent "Bread - A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes".*

This explains why the quote you have given matches, word for word, the one I gave up-thread!

:cool:

Incidentally, looking through Reinhart's BBA, I noticed that he speaks of using a (measured) cup of boiling water into a large pan -- but I've not spotted **any** instruction whatsoever to remove the pan during baking!

I'm sure that a pan as large as is illustrated will boil dry during the first half of the bake, but I'm all the more surprised by Saucée's 2 minute removal, citing "Harold McGee and Peter Reinhart".

* Incidentally, I think Hamelman's book, though under-hyped, is rather special, being written primarily for the working professional manual baker, while being carefully kept accessible (and thus very useful) to the serious amateur.


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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The loaf only needs steam for its first two minutes in the oven, or so says Harold McGee and Peter Reinhart. ...

Really Josh?

I don't have McGee.

I don't know what he says about steam, but I'd hestitate to accept his contradiction of specialists.

Reinhart on page 92 of BBA, says that steam is valuable "only during the first half of the baking process".

Its possible that you may be confused by commercial oven practice with a steam lever -- giving a blast of steam on demand.

You will see various bits of advice about not using that lever to admit more fresh steam after the first couple of minutes of baking.

Hamelman says "The benefits of steam occur only during the first third or so of the baking cycle. If the baker neglects to inject steam at the time of bread loading, he or she cannot compensate by steaming the oven several minutes later. In order to ensure that the crust remains thin and crisp, it is important to finish the bake in a dry oven. For this reason, the oven should be vented or the doors notched partially open for the last portion of the bake." - (Page 27).

On page 192, Hamelman makes clear that these commercial ovens should have their vents opened (to release the damp air) "once the bread has begun to colour, usually after about 15 minutes of baking."

Dan Lepard on page 22 of The Handmade Loaf says "For the first 10 minutes of baking, the loaf needs to expand to its fullest extent ... A moist environment enables this to happen."

That's why I think I have some support for what I do myself:

About 1/3 of the way through the bake, (so after its fully risen and 'set'), I remove the pan, whether or not it has boiled dry. Opening the oven to take it out allows a lot of the moisture to escape -- the crust wants much lower humidity for the last half of the bake, so that's good too.

I actually thought that was pretty mainstream advice from the experts.

Dougal,

There is sure to be disagreement among experts as among non-experts. You should follow the method that has worked for you. I was commenting according to my own experience, having tried steaming for different lengths of time.

I would suggest, however, that you would do well to continue to read a bit more of p.92 out of the BBA. Reinhart says

Its [steam's] value is only realized during the first half of the baking process. After that the bread needs a dry environment in which to develop its crisp crust properly. For this reason, all of the steam is generated during the first few seconds of the bake, with its lingering effects fading out as the bread continues to bake. There is no advantage to steaming late in the process, nor even after the first few minutes, once the crust is set.

The method he advocates on pp.93-94 is using a cast iron pan, preheated with the oven, to which hot water is added before the bread goes into the oven. He then sprays the walls of the oven in 30 second intervals for three sprays: "I usually do three sprays at 30-second intervals to replicate as closely as possible the steam of a bakery oven." Note that he also says "there is no advantage to steaming late in the process, nor even after the first few minutes, once the crust is set."

I am not confused about how a bakery oven works nor have I misread the sources that I've used to learn about baking, as your email seems to suggest. If I use a pan with boiling water and spray three times for steam in 2 minutes, I am getting about 5 or more minutes of steam since it is trapped in the oven. According to what I understand about bread baking (I don't claim to be an expert) and my experience, this is enough to produce a crackly crust. Whenever I have steamed longer, the crust has been too soft and chewy. I might point out that none of your quotations give precise directions for how to get maximum ovenspring. Lepard says there ought to be a moist environment to produce maximum spring but I don't see where it follows that he is advocating the heavy use of steam for 10 minutes. That's overkill in my experience. To produce a moist environment, you can steam for a short amount of time, then trap the steam in the oven. This provides just enough steam to provide spring and a good crust while not compromising the loaf's crust to chewiness.

josh


josh

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I must say that my first experience was, well, disappointing. Yesterday morning, I made the master recipe as directed, however, I did not realize until too late that I used "rapid rise" yeast rather than regular yeast. So I made a second batch using regular yeast.

Last night I cooked two loaves from the "rapid rise" batch, thinking that I should use that dough asap. I did add approximately 3/4 cup of boiling water to a pan on the bottom rack of my oven, and I cooked the loaves on a stone (preheated) on the middle rack.

I let the loaves rise for 40 min., as directed, but they did not seem to rise well, so I gave them another 15 minutes and then baked at 450F for 20 minutes (as they were small loaves). Here is the result. The crust was OK, but I did not care for the texture (obviously the rise was insufficient) and it didn't have much flavor, at all.

gallery_51874_4337_1075708.jpg

gallery_51874_4337_354539.jpg

Tonight, I will bake a couple of loaves from the other batch - hopefully the "rapid rise" yeast is to blame for these poor results.

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. . .

I let the loaves rise for 40 min., as directed, but they did not seem to rise well, so I gave them another 15 minutes and then baked at 450F for 20 minutes (as they were small loaves).  Here is the result.  The crust was OK, but I did not care for the texture (obviously the rise was insufficient) and it didn't have much flavor, at all.

. . .

I think the directions are misleading as reprinted many times - the 40 minute rise is for freshly made, unrefrigerated dough. I believe that the correct direction should be to add 60 minutes to the rising time for refrigerated dough.

If anyone has the book and can confirm this, it would be much appreciated!


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I think the directions are misleading as reprinted many times - the 40 minute rise is for freshly made, unrefrigerated dough.  I believe that the correct direction should be to add 60 minutes to the rising time for refrigerated dough.

If anyone has the book and can confirm this, it would be much appreciated!

Good point, Anna N. I checked out Zoe's website (www.zoebakes.com) and found this (the bold lettering is quoting Zoe's website - I can't figure out how to get the quote function to work for references outside of Egullet):

01/17/08 9:15 am zoe said...

Hi Jerry,

Sorry if that wasn’t clear. This is how it breaks down:

non-refrigerated dough rests for 40 minutes on the peel.

refrigerated dough rests for 1 hour on the peel.

These times are for dough that is using less yeast. If you are following the recipe in the book, then just stick to those instructions.

Does that help?

You need to allow the dough to warm up somewhat before baking or your dough will be too dense and you will also have uneven oven spring.

Thanks, Zoë

So if I'm understanding her correctly, using the standard "master" recipe, the rise time should be 40 minutes even for refrigerated dough. I hope someone with the book chimes in, because now I am really confused. :blink:

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. . .

I let the loaves rise for 40 min., as directed, but they did not seem to rise well, so I gave them another 15 minutes and then baked at 450F for 20 minutes (as they were small loaves).  Here is the result.  The crust was OK, but I did not care for the texture (obviously the rise was insufficient) and it didn't have much flavor, at all.

. . .

I think the directions are misleading as reprinted many times - the 40 minute rise is for freshly made, unrefrigerated dough. I believe that the correct direction should be to add 60 minutes to the rising time for refrigerated dough.

If anyone has the book and can confirm this, it would be much appreciated!

I have the book and I think it is a little confusing there also. They go into detail over the master recipe and say to let it rise for 40 minutes. Later on, they say to refrigerate the remainder. So they never really discuss the rise for the refrigerated dough for the master recipe. However, after I started trying some of the other recipes, I saw that an hour should be added to the rise if the dough was refrigerated first. I then starting letting the basic recipe rise for 1 hr 40 minutes and have had much better results.

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. . .

I have the book and I think it is a little confusing there also.  They go into detail over the master recipe and say to let it rise for 40 minutes.  Later on, they say to refrigerate the remainder.  So they never really discuss the rise for the refrigerated dough for the master recipe.  However, after I started trying some of the other recipes, I saw that an hour should be added to the rise if the dough was refrigerated first.  I then starting letting the basic recipe rise for 1 hr 40 minutes and have had much better results.

Thanks! It was just instinct with me since there is no rise whatever after 40 mins when the dough is at 35F! But I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just extrapolating from the usual way of working with dough. I think, too, that one has to factor into this extra hour the ambient heat of the work area. So it might be longer in a cooler environment or shorter in a warmer one.

I think it also important to realize that they don't advocate any punch down but shape the boule causing as little deflation as possible. This is much more evident in the video than in any reprint of the recipe.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I also was confused about the time. I thought she meant to add an extra hour when the dough was refrigerated, so I let it rise for 1 hour & 40 minutes. That worked for me.

By the way, I sawed off a handful & made a pizza last night. It was better than anything we can get locally.

Pizza dough on demand... a dream come true.

pat


I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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I also was confused about the time. I thought she meant to add an extra hour when the dough was refrigerated, so I let it rise for 1 hour & 40 minutes.  That worked for me.

By the way, I sawed off a handful & made a pizza last night.  It was better than anything we can get locally.

Pizza dough on demand...  a dream come true.

pat

That's my favorite thing of all. We haven't gone a week without pizza and stromboli since I first started making the dough. My go to before that for a quick dinner was Boboli pizza crust but I will never need to resort to that again!

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      Author(s)

      In the last section, I mentioned an interview with the author. That was somewhat incorrect. There are two authors!
      Lu Yi (卢一) President of Sichuan Tourism College, Vice Chairman of Sichuan Nutrition Society, Chairman of Sichuan Food Fermentation Society, Chairman of Sichuan Leisure Sports Management Society Du Li (杜莉) Master of Arts, Professor of Sichuan Institute of Tourism, Director of Sichuan Cultural Development Research Center, Sichuan Humanities and Social Sciences Key Research Base, Sichuan Provincial Department of Education, and member of the International Food Culture Research Association of the World Chinese Culinary Federation Along with the principal authors, two famous chefs checked the English translations.
      Fuchsia Dunlop - of Land of Plenty fame Professor Shirley Cheng - of Hyde Park New York's Culinary Institute of America Fuchsia Dunlop was actually the first (and to my knowledge, only) Western graduate from the school that produced the book.
       

      Recipes
      Here are screenshots of the table of contents.  It has some recipes I'm a big fan of.
       
      ISBN
      ISBN 10: 7536469640   ISBN 13: 9787536469648 As far as I can tell, the first and second edition have the same ISBN #'s. I'm no librarian, so if anyone knows more about how ISBN #'s relate to re-releases and editions, feel free to chime in.
       
      Publisher
      Sichuan Science and Technology Press 四川科学技术出版社  
      Cover
      Okay... so this book has a lot of covers.
      The common cover A red cover A white cover A white version of the common cover An ornate and shiny cover  There may or may not be a "Box set." At first, I thought this was a difference in book editions, but that doesn't seem to be the case. As far as covers go, I'm at a loss. If anybody has more info, I'm all ears.
       
      Buying the book
      Alright, so I've hunted down many sites that used to sell it and a few who still have it in stock. Most of them are priced exorbitantly.
       
      AbeBooks.com ($160 + $15 shipping) Ebay.com - used ($140 + $4 shipping) PurpleCulture.net ($50 + $22 shipping) Amazon.com ($300 + $5 shipping + $19 tax) A few other sites in Chinese  
      I bought a copy off of PurpleCuture.net on April 14th. When I purchased Sichuan Cuisine, it said there was only one copy left. That seems to be a lie to create false urgency for the buyer. My order never updated past processing, but after emailing them, I was given a tracking code. It has since landed in America and is in customs. I'll try to update this thread when (if) it is delivered.
       
      Closing thoughts
      This book is probably not worth all the effort that I've put into finding it. But what is worth effort, is preserving knowledge. It turns my gut to think that this book will never be accessible to chefs that have a passion for learning real Sichuan food. As we get inundated with awful recipes from Simple and quick blogs, it becomes vital to keep these authentic sources available. As the internet chugs along, more and more recipes like these will be lost. 
       
      You'd expect the internet to keep information alive, but in many ways, it does the opposite. In societies search for quick and easy recipes, a type of evolutionary pressure is forming. It's a pressure that mutates recipes to simpler and simpler versions of themselves. They warp and change under consumer pressure till they're a bastardized copy of the original that anyone can cook in 15 minutes. The worse part is that these new, worse recipes wear the same name as the original recipe. Before long, it becomes harder to find the original recipe than the new one. 
       
      In this sense, the internet hides information. 
       
    • By curls
      Couldn't find a topic devoted to sourdough discard cooking, so thought I would start one and see how much interest it would generate. Moderators, if there is a topic, please merge.
       
      Recently I have begun making sourdough bread and am caring for a sourdough starter. Since there is currently some difficulty finding flour (due to COVID-19 related supply chain issues, etc.) I don't want to throw out any of my sourdough starter. I am also following guidance from King Arthur Flour and Cooks Illustrated for working with a small sourdough starter (10 g. flour | 10 g. water | 10 g. sourdough starter) and using recipes that use smaller amounts of sourdough starter or only building my starter up if called for by a recipe.
       
      I have made the following recipes and would make them again:
      - King Arthur Flour sourdough discard crumpets. https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sourdough-crumpets-recipe
      - King Arthur Flour sourdough discard waffles. I used a mix of yogurt & milk instead of buttermilk but otherwise made the recipe as written.  https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/classic-sourdough-waffles-or-pancakes-recipe
       

       

       
      What are you doing with your sourdough discard?
    • By gsquared
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
      A Sampling of North Indian Breads
      Authors: Monica Bhide and Chef Sudhir Seth
      Introduction
      These breads are the taste of home for me -- wholesome breads prepared with simple ingredients and simple cooking methods. There are many different types of breads in North India. They can be prepared in the tandoor (clay oven, as is done in many restaurants), dry roasted, cooked on a griddle, or deep-fried. They can be prepared plain, or stuffed with savory or sweet filling, or just topped with mouthwatering garnishes.
      In the recipes below we are merely attempting to scratch the surface, presenting you with a glimpse of these magnificent breads.
      North Indian breads are prepared with various kinds of flours. The ones listed here use a whole-wheat flour known as atta and all-purpose flour. The dough is prepared in most cases without the use of yeast. (We have shown a special sweet bread here, called Sheermal, that is prepared using yeast.) Also, the tandoori breads are generally rolled out by hand not with a rolling pin. But in the recipes below, for ease of use for the home cook, we have used a rolling pin. As you will also see then, no special equipment is needed. We have prepared the breads in a traditional oven and in a non-stick skillet. (We have included some pictures towards the end of the lesson of a roti being prepared in a commercial tandoor.)
      A few tips:
      • Knead the dough well, adding only enough water or other specified liquid to make the dough the right consistency.
      • A must for preparing these breads is to let the dough rest as indicated. This will ensure that the dough softens and moistens, making it more pliable and easier to stretch
      • To prepare simple ghee (clarified butter) see below but for a in-depth discussion check out this wonderful thread in the India forum. (See the last few suggestions on preparing it by melting butter.)
      • You can also purchase ghee or clarified butter at your local Indian grocer or from www. Namaste.com.
      Clarified Butter (Ghee)
      Yields: About ½ cup
      ½ lb unsalted butter
      Heat a heavy pan over low heat. Add the butter, allowing it to melt. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat, bringing the butter to a simmer. The butter will start to foam.
      Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Watch carefully as it may burn. The milk solids will start to settle at the bottom, and the liquid butter will float to the surface. When the liquid butter becomes amber in color, remove it from from the heat. Cool to room temperature.
      Strain the amber liquid into a jar and discard the milk solids.
      Cover and store, refrigerated, for up to 6 months.
      Plain Naan Dough
      Naans are traditional Indian breads prepared in clay ovens or tandoors. They are commonplace on most Indian menus. We have tried here to present a simple dough for Naans and then two of the more unusual preparations for it: the Peshawari Naan and the Onion Kulcha. .
      • ½ cup milk
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • 1 cup warm water
      • 1 tablespoon yogurt
      • 1 egg
      • 4 cups of all-purpose flour (labelled "maida" in Indian grocery store)
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (for baking tray)
      • 2 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee
      In a bowl whisk together the milk, sugar, water, yogurt and egg.
      Place the flour, salt and baking powder in a large shallow bowl. Mix well.
      Pour the liquid onto the flour and begin to knead. Continue kneading until you have a soft dough. If you need more liquid, add a few tablespoons of warm water. Knead for at least 10 minutes, or until you have a soft dough that is not sticky.
      Oil the dough.
      Cover the dough with a damp cloth and place in a warm place for 1½ - 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
      Directions for plain naan:
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly dust the rolling surface and rolling pin with flour.
      Knead the dough again on the floured surface for about 5 minutes. Divide it into 8 equal pieces and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
      Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into an oval shape (about 8 inches). Using your hands, pull at both ends of the oval to stretch it a little. Continue until you have made 8 naans.
      Brush each oval with clarified butter.

      Place the naans on the baking sheet bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.
      Peshawari Naan
      In this delightfully sinful recipe, the naan dough is stuffed with dried nuts and raisins and baked. Serve this warm right out of the oven for the best taste.
      1 recipe prepared plain naan dough
      For the stuffing:
      • 1 tablespoon cashews (crushed)
      • 1 tablespoon almonds (crushed)
      • 1+1 tablespoons pistachios (crushed)
      • 1 tablespoon raisins
      • 1 teaspoon cilantro leaves, minced
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • 1 tablespoon Milk Mawa Powder (Dried whole milk powder)

      • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
      • 3 tablespoons melted butter or clarified butter
      Prepare the Naan dough.

      While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.
      Set aside 1 tablespoon of pistachios and the raisins. In a mixing bowl combine all the other filling ingredients. Add a few tablespoons of water to bind them together to form a lumpy consistency.
      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly oil or flour your hands.
      Take one portion of the dough and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Add a tablespoon of the filling to the center. Bring the sides together and pinch them to seal and form a ball. Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour.

      Roll the flattened ball again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Garnish with the reserved pistachios and raisins.

      Continue until you have made 8 naans.
      Brush each naan with clarified butter. Place the naans on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.
      Serve hot.

      Onion Kulcha
      We present this recipe by popular demand. Here the naan is stuffed with a spiced onion mix and baked to perfection.
      1 recipe prepared plain naan dough
      For the stuffing:
      • 2 small red onions, finely chopped
      • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
      • 1 tablespoon Chaat Masala (www.namaste.com)
      • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
      • Salt to taste
      • 3 tablespoons melted butter or clarified butter
      • 2 teaspoons cilantro, minced for garnish
      • small boiled potato, grated (optional)
      Prepare the naan dough.

      While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.

      First, using the palms of your hands, squeeze out all the water from the chopped onions. If the onions still appear to be watery, add a small boiled grated potato to your filling. This will prevent the filling from spilling out of the kulcha.
      In a mixing bowl combine all the filling to form a lumpy consistency.

      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly oil or flour your hands.
      Take one portion of the dough and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.

      Add a tablespoon of the filling to the center. Bring the sides together and pinch them to seal and form a ball. Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour.

      Roll the flattened ball again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.

      Dip your fingers in water and moisten the surface of the kulcha very lightly. Sprinkle with a few minced cilantro leaves. Continue until you have made 8 kulchas.

      Place the kulchas on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.
      Serve hot.


      Ande Ka Paratha
      This is a unique addition to your recipe collection. A mild and flaky bread, it is a small kid’s favorite at our home.
      Makes 8 parathas
      • 2 cups Indian atta flour (whole-wheat flour)
      • 1½ teaspoons table salt
      • 2+2 tablespoons melted butter or clarified butter
      • Water as needed
      • 8 eggs
      In a bowl combine the flour, salt and two tablespoons of clarified butter. Slowly begin to add the water, kneading the flour as you go. Make a dough, kneading for at least 10 minutes. The final dough should be soft and pliable. It should not be sticky or else it will not roll out well.


      Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.

      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Lightly oil or flour your hands. Take one portion and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the prepared floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Now fold the dough over itself.

      Take the folded dough and roll it around itself into a spiral.

      Tuck the end under.

      Do this for all eight dough balls. (This folding and rolling will make the paratha very flaky.)

      Now flatten the spiral and roll again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.


      Heat a griddle on medium heat. Brush it lightly with butter and add the paratha. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the paratha begins to blister. Brush the top lightly with butter and remove from heat. Put the paratha aside on a warm plate.

      Grease the same griddle a bit and break an egg on it. Cook the egg sunny side up. Place the cooked side of the paratha on the egg. Press down gently to break the yolk. Let it cook for a minute. Brush the top of the paratha with butter, flip carefully and cook for another minute or two until the paratha is no longer raw.


      Remove the paratha from the griddle and place on a serving platter. Cover with a paper towel. Continue until all the parathas are cooked.
      Serve hot.

      Indian Bread Stuffed With Spicy Potatoes (Aloo Ka Paratha)
      This filled paratha is a very popular North Indian bread, served traditionally with homemade white butter and Indian pickles of your choice.
      • 2 cups Indian atta flour (whole-wheat flour)
      • 4 tablespoons semolina
      • 1½ teaspoons table salt
      • 2 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • Water as needed
      • 3 medium potatoes, peeled
      • 2 Serrano green chilies, seeded and finely minced
      • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
      • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, grated
      • 1 teaspoon Chaat Masala
      • 4 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • A few tablespoons flour for dusting
      In a bowl combine the wheat flour, semolina flour, salt and two tablespoons of clarified butter. Slowly begin to add the water, kneading the flour as you go. Make a dough, kneading for at least 10 minutes. The final dough should be soft and pliable. It should not be sticky, or else it will not roll out well.
      Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
      While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.
      Boil the potatoes in enough water to cover for about 15 minutes. Drain.



      Put the potatoes in a bowl and mash them well with a fork. Add the green chilies, cilantro, ginger root, and chaat masala and mix well. Set this filling aside to cool.
      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Lightly oil or flour your hands. Take one portion and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the prepared floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Lightly brush the surface with the clarified butter. Add a tablespoon of the potato filling to the center. Bring the sides together and pinch them to seal and form a ball. Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour.



      Roll the flattened ball again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.


      Heat a griddle on medium heat. Brush it lightly with butter and add the paratha. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the paratha begins to blister. Brush the top lightly with butter and flip over. Cook for 2 minutes.

      Remove the paratha from the griddle and place on a serving platter. Cover with a paper towel. Continue until all the parathas are cooked.

      Sheermal
      A sweet bread, it is one of the few Indian breads that uses yeast. Keep the dough in a warm place to ensure that it rises. You can increase the amount of sugar if you like a sweeter taste.

      • 1 packet dry yeast
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • ¼ cup water
      • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
      • ¼ teaspoon salt
      • 2 tablespoons sugar
      • 2 eggs (separate 1 egg and set the yolk aside) beat the whole egg and the white together
      • 2 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • Extra flour for dusting
      • Pitted cherries/raisins for garnish
      Mix yeast with the sugar and 1/4 cup water. Set aside until frothy, about 5 - 10 minutes.
      Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add the clarified butter, egg and yeast mixture. Knead until a smooth dough is formed. (You may need more warm water.) Set aside to rise until the dough doubles in size.
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly dust the rolling surface and rolling pin with flour.
      Knead the dough again on the floured surface for about 5 minutes. Divide it into 6 equal pieces and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
      Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a disc. Continue until you have made 6 discs.
      Beat the reserved egg yolk and brush a little on each sheermal. Place a few cherries on the sheermal for garnish. Place the discs on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

      Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

      Tandoori Roti
      We wanted to show how the tandoor is used to prepare breads. These pictures are of a special roti or bread, called Tandoori Roti, being prepared in the hot tandoor or clay oven.
      The basic recipe entails preparing a dough of whole-wheat flour. (See the paratha dough prepared earlier.) The flattened rolled out discs are then cooked in the tandoor until the dark spots begin appearing on the surface of the bread.




      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
    • By eGCI Team
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
      Sourdough Bread
      by Jack Lang (jackal10)
      Acknowledgements
      Dan Lepard, for inspiration and and contribution.
      Charles Lang, whose hands are in the photographs.
      Brendel Lang for the painting.
      The Members of the eGCI team for considerable labour and expertise.
      Samuel Lloyd Kinsey (slkinsey) my fellow instructor.
      Jill Grey, my partner, for putting up with the mess.
      Introduction

      The object of this lesson is to teach you to bake better bread— bread that will be the envy of your non-baking friends—bread so good that people will wonder where it came from!
      The recipe is archived here.
      Why sourdough? Because it tastes better. This is the real stuff; not some machine-made pap. You will make bread you just can’t stop eating, and that will spoil you for mass-produced bought bread. Once you have mastered basic white bread, you (or we) can go on to whatever variations you like or request. This is daily bread, fragrant with tastes of the yeast and the grain, and with a crisp crackling crust. Perfect on its own, or with good butter, or jam, or cheese and maybe a ripe tomato. It keeps (in a paper bag, not in the fridge) for close to a week, although you may need to toast it toward the end of the week. Toasted it makes magnificent bruschetta. You can bake weekly, or less often as the bread freezes well.
      This recipe and technique may seem straightforward, but it contains the results of years of experimentation and optimisation. We’ll make plain, white bread. Once you have mastered that, you can go on to fancier loaves. However (unless you really need the bran) you will come back to this basic bread just because it is so good and so pure.
      Bread comes in many shapes.

      English bread shapes

      European bread shapes
      This lesson will teach the basic French boule or flattened ball shape. We will also look at baguettes. But you can make any shape you fancy. The same dough works well in a tin, too.
      You can find more technical details regarding the history of sourdough bread and the composition of the starter by clicking this link. Reading this background history and science is not essential, but very helpful. It will give some insight into why as well as the how.
      Where to get your starter
      You basically have three options –
      1. Buy a starter off the web or from a local artisanal bakery. One place is here.
      2. Order the eGullet starter.
      You can obtain the special egullet starter by sending a PM to jackal10 with your snail-mail address. The starter will be sent out free, although the cost of the starter and postage is about $10. Please donate at least that much to your favourite charity, and we would appreciate it if you could include the name of the charity and the amount in your PM.
      Your egullet starter was collected originally in the vineyards of California, but has travelled extensively since. It produces a light, mild bread. When it arrives, it will look like raw dough in a plastic bag

      How your starter will look when you unpack it.
      You can leave it in the fridge until you are ready, or better, turn it into your own starter. To do this, add one cup of flour and 1 cup of water and mix to a smooth batter. You can do this by hand or in a food processor. Put the batter into a basin, cover and leave in a warm (80-85F/27-29C) place for 4-8 hours, or until you see bubbles on the surface. Ideally refresh it a couple of times, and you are ready. You can store the starter in a jar in the fridge.
      3. Make your own.
      You can make your own starter and harvest the local wild yeasts with some patience. The key is the remarkable stability of the yeast-lacto bacillus pairing. If you keep almost any fermentable mixture of flour and water at about the right temperature, and when it begins to bubble, feed (refresh) it regularly, you will get the right bugs.
      Some people add grapes with bloom on them (yeasts live on the surface), rye (high in enzymes), or other things, but that is mostly superstition.
      How to roll your own starter
      a) Mix 1 cup flour and 1 cup water to a smooth batter.
      b) Cover and leave in a warm (85F/29C) place until it starts to bubble (12 hours or so but it can take several days). Don’t worry about off smells or colours at this stage. Skim any obvious muck.
      c) Refresh it by adding another ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of water and stir. If the volume gets too much for your container, throw some away. Cover the rest and put it back into a warm place.
      d) Repeat the last step for 4 times at 8-12 hour intervals. The starter should be active, and smell wholesome.
      Starters can be kept in a closed jar in the refrigerator for months. They may separate into two layers, but just stir them together before use. They will, of course, keep best if used and refreshed regularly. If the starter seems sluggish, refresh it a couple of times (step c above) before use.
      Starter doesn’t freeze well, but can be dried for a reserve supply. If you need to ship it, make some into a lasagna sheet, or stiff dough.
      For best results always use the same flour, so the bugs can get used to it. Some people keep separate starters for white, rye and for wholemeal (whole wheat). I use white unbleached flour, which has added Vitamin C as an improver. As mentioned above, if your flour does not already have Vitamin C in it, you can add 1/2tsp Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) but it is not critical.
      Recovering a sick starter
      If your starter smells off (cheesy or of peardrops), or has gone sluggish you can recover it by following the procedure for a new starter above, but inoculate the initial flour and water mix with a tablespoon or two of the old starter.
      Practical Section
      A typical bread-making timetable is
      Day 1:
      09:00: Refresh starter
      - Starter ferments -
      13:00: Make dough
      13:15: Dough kneaded (by hand)
      -Amylisation-
      13:45: Add Salt
      14:00 Finished dough
      - Bulk fermentation-
      16:00: Shape
      -Retard overnight –
      Day 2
      Pre-heat oven, and bake for 40 minutes.
      Ingredients for 1 loaf or four baguettes.
      To refresh the starter:
      1 c sourdough starter
      1 c Strong white bread flour
      1 c water
      For the dough:
      1 c refreshed sourdough starter
      3 c Strong white bread flour.
      1 c water (you may need more -- see below)
      2 tsp salt
      The dough in the illustration is ordinary unbleached supermarket (Tesco) strong white bread flour, 11.7g protein, with ½ cup of spelt flour added for flavour. This supermarket adds Vitamin C and amalyse to their bread flour. Different flours may adsorb different amounts of water. This flour needs a bit more water. The object is to make a very soft dough -- one that has only just stopped being a batter and just holds together.
      Sourdough Bread Instructions
      A. Refresh the Starter
      1. Mix together 1 cup starter, 1 cup strong flour and 1 cup of water. It should be the consistency of very thick cream.

      Starter just mixed.
      3. Cover, and allow to stand in a warm (85F/29C) place for 4 hours.

      Starter after 4 hours.
      After 4 hours or so, it should be bubbly. Temperature is fairly critical, as discussed above. Any hotter than 85F/29C and you start to kill the yeast; any colder and it will not be as sour and will take longer to rise.
      What we are making here is a sponge starter or poolish. Starters (pre-ferments) can be roughly divided by hydration into wet, batter-like pre-ferments, often called poolish from their origin and dry, dough-like pre-ferments, often called biga, as the technique is typical of Italian bread. Some bakers call a poolish a sponge; others use sponge to refer to all pre-ferments.
      B. Make the Dough
      Assemble Ingredients as listed above.

      The storage jar with the rest of the starter is at the back right, ready to go back into the fridge for next time.
      The easiest way is to whizz together refreshed starter, flour and water (but not the salt yet) in a food processor for 20 sec.
      Alternatively mix them in a large bowl:

      Ready to mix

      Dough after mixing.
      Should make a softish dough. The wetter the dough the bigger the holes in the final bread. Different flours need different amounts of water – add more water or flour to get the right consistency. You may need to add up to another ½ cup of flour so that it just stops being a batter and holds together as a dough. On the other hand if it is too stiff then add more water. Plenty of loose flour will stop it sticking too much.
      If you are making the dough by hand then knead for 10 minutes by the clock.

      Be rough with it. Lose your temper with it. Take out your frustrations on it. Slam it about. When it is properly kneaded it should feel resilient to the touch. It has been described as feeling like an earlobe, but I describe it like feeling a soft breast or buttock. You should be able to take a pinch of dough and stretch it so thin you can see through it – called the “windowpane test”.

      When kneaded the dough will stretch without breaking
      You cannot over-knead by hand. It is possible (but quite difficult) to over-knead if you are using a mixer or a food processor, as the dough can get too hot, and if worked too long and hard the gluten will begin to break down.

      Finished Dough
      Gather it together, and wipe a little oil over the surface to stop it sticking, cover it and leave it in a warm place for 30 mins.

      Resting
      This pause, before the salt is added, is for several reasons:
      - It lets the enzymes do their stuff. They begin breaking down starches into sugars to feed the yeast to make a better crust colour. Salt tends to retard this reaction.
      - It lets the dough (and you) rest and relax after the exertions of kneading.
      - It allows the flour to complete its hydration, High levels of salt can interfere with this.
      - It allows time for you to prepare your “banneton” to receive the finished dough. See Preparing Your Banneton below.
      After 30 mins add the salt and whiz for another 20 sec, or knead for another 10 mins. Oil, cover, and leave for 2 hours or so in a warm (85F/29C) place. The exact time is not critical – anything from about 90 minutes to 3 hours will work. Temperature is more critical than time.

      Rested Dough
      The dough will have expanded a bit. Don’t worry about whether it has doubled or not. A lot of nonsense is written in some cookbooks, resulting in much overproved dough. The dough will also have got a bit softer and wetter.
      Turn out onto a floured board.

      Dusting the board with flour
      Now handle gently - don't knock all the air out. The time for rough handling is over. Take the sides and fold to the centre.

      Folding the dough
      Folding the dough like this (you can also fold top to bottom as well) gently stretches the gluten and the bubbles forming in the bread. Dan Lepard's technique for his wonderful bread is to repeat this folding operation every hour for up to 5 hours during an extended bulk fermentation phase, resting the dough between times. When the dough is ready for shaping bubbles are clearly visible if you cut a small slit
      in the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
      Turn the dough over and shape into a ball. As you shape it try and stretch the surface a bit so it is taut.

      Shaping the dough
      Put it upside down (on its stretched, taut surface) into a cloth lined basket (called a banneton). The top of the dough in the banneton will be the bottom of the finished loaf.
      Preparing Your Banneton
      Traditionally, bannetons are made of cane or wicker, lined with linen, but you can improvise from a basin or a basket and a tea-towel or a piece of muslin. Ideally they are porous, so the outside dries slightly to help in crust development.

      Dough in the banneton
      Don’t worry if the top surface of the dough in the banneton is uneven: it will even itself out. Put into the fridge, covered with a cloth, overnight.

      In the fridge
      The dough is soft and needs the support of the basket. You could bake it after letting it rise for a hour or so, but its easier to handle, and gives a better crust if you keep it in the fridge (retardation) for between 8 and 24 hours. The cold will practically stop the fermentation, and so timing is not critical, and it gives you back control in that you can bake the dough when you want, rather than when the fermentation dictates.
      I’m lucky enough to have a brick bread oven that has a brick floor that holds the heat. The shell of this one I imported from France, from a company called Four Grandmere. If you are inspired to build your own, Dan Wing’s and Tom Jaine’s books are given in the references

      My oven

      Inside the oven
      You can approximate a similar environment in a domestic oven by putting a pizza stone or a layer of quarry tiles or engineering bricks on the lowest shelf to provide bottom heat.
      You are aiming for 440F/230C or even 500F/260C, as hot as most domestic ovens can manage. Heat the oven at least an hour before you want to bake to allow time to stabilise, and for the heat to soak into the tiles or equivalent. (If you have a wood fired oven you will need to light the fire about four hours before baking.)

      My oven heating up
      If you have an oven thermometer, check the temperature of the oven. You are strongly advised to do this as oven thermostats are surprisingly inaccurate.

      Thermometer
      When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge. Some advise letting the dough return to room temperature --a couple of hours or so, but I find I it better and easier to cook these very soft doughs straight from the fridge. The cold dough is stiffer, handles easier and spreads less.

      The dough from the fridge
      Again, don’t worry that it does not seem to have expanded much. Most of the expansion will be in the oven (called oven-spring). This will result in a lighter and better-shaped loaf than if the expansion is from proofing when some of the gas may leak out.

      When ready to bake, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet and remove the cloth. (For the wood fired oven we use a peel, lightly dusted with dry polenta meal so the dough does not stick.)

      Slash the top firmly with a very sharp knife. Professional bakers use a razor blade on a stick, called a “lame”. Slash quickly and decisively – it is a slash not a cut. Don’t mess the dough about. Spray the knife blade with cooking spray to prevent it from tearing the dough.

      The slashes allow the dough to rise in a defined way, and lessen the resistance to expansion by making weak points in the crust. In ancient times the pattern of slashes identified whose bread it was in the communal oven.
      Here a slightly careless slash has caught the dough on one side, so the finished loaf will be a bit uneven and rustic.

      Into the oven:

      Just loaded:

      20 minutes later, and halfway through the bake. Most of the expansion has happened. Our loaf is the one on the left.

      The pattern on the rye bread on the front right is created by using a banneton made from coiled cane. No cloth is used in that sort of banneton. Bannetons can be obtained from any good baking supplier. The ones shown come from Four Grandmere and the San Francisco Baking Institute.

      Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until it is a good colour. You might need to rotate it after 30 mins.
      Let the bread cool to warm before you slice it. Hard to resist the temptation to slice into the loaf too soon, but it needs time to finish cooking and for the structure to firm up as it cools.

      I like an open texture, as it gives more room for the butter. The crust is a little thick as the bread was slightly over baked.

      That completes the basic bread lesson.

      Variations on the basic recipe/technique
      I’d advise practicing plain white bread before trying variations. When you get that right you can get fancier. You might not get it completely to your satisfaction the first time, but as you go on your baking will improve. There are infinite variations possible.
      Crust Variations:
      My brother prefers a flour dusted crust. These were the other loaves in the bake:

      To get this effect, lightly dust the banneton and the top of the dough with flour before putting in the dough.

      The legs in the top of the picture are my sister-in-law, painting the scene. I’m the one sitting down; my brother is loading the oven.

      The dough is slashed in a feather pattern. To achieve this, make alternate slashes from each side of the loaf to just over halfway across. This pattern was tought to us by Ian Duffy, then of the San Fransisco Baking Institute.

      This is a loaf with 25% rye flour.
      For a shiny, thinner crust, put an empty pan in the bottom of the oven and pour a cup of boiling water into it after you have put the bread in the oven (be careful of the hot steam), and shut the door quickly. The idea is to provide a burst of steam, which gelatinises the outside of the dough. Professional ovens have steam injection for this purpose. Alternatively (but not as good) you can paint the bread with water before it goes in the oven, or use a garden sprayer. (Be careful not to get cold water on the oven light or it might shatter.) The baguettes below are made like this.
      Other crust variations you can try:
      Brush with milk or cream
      Brush with egg glaze (egg yolk+milk)
      Toppings (stick on with egg-wash or water):
      Porridge oats (oatmeal)
      Muesli
      Poppy seeds
      Sesame seeds
      Grated cheese


      Flavours and additions
      Add with the salt, but you might want to chop them and then hand-knead them in – the food processor chops them a bit too fine
      Onions (soften in butter first),
      Hazelnuts, walnuts
      Olives,
      Sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed?)
      Caraway seeds
      Dill weed
      Raisins
      Smarties or M&Ms
      Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
      Flour variants: I’d recommend replacing only 1/3-1/2 of the plain strong white flour with:
      Wholemeal (whole wheat) (will not rise as much)
      Granary (has added malt)
      Rye flour (makes a sticky dough)
      For dark rye add 1 Tbs black treacle (molasses). Some like caraway seeds as well.
      Spelt (ancient wheat) (Poilane is reputed to use 1/5th Spelt. This was the example bread).
      “Mighty White” (steamed, corned grains)
      For a sweet bread: add sugar and butter with the fruit. Saffron for Easter.
      Baguettes
      Baguettes, that typical French loaf, are long thin loaves made with a soft, white dough. Because they are thin, they are baked at a higher temperature but for less time. The dough is delicate, and needs supporting continuously during proof and baking. You can get special pans for this. I’ve now thrown away my tin baguette pans (the ones in these pictures) and instead use a silpat baguette form (from www.demarle.com). You can just see it in the crust variation photo. Much easier and no sticking.
      To Make Baguettes from the Finished Dough
      Divide the dough into four, at the shaping stage:

      Roll and stretch into long cylinders, tucking the end in neatly. Cover, put into a large plastic bag, like a dustbin liner so that they do not dry out too much, and put in the fridge overnight. Next day take them out, and slash the tops.

      Put them in the hottest oven you can, and throw half a cup water into a pan or onto the oven floor. Beware of the hot steam!

      Bake until golden, say 30 mins

      Let cool on a rack. Enjoy with cheese and a glass of wine, or maybe some good soup.

      References
      Dan Lepard Baking with Passion - Dan Lepard - A great book. Website: www.danlepard.com.
      Joe Ortiz The Village Baker ISBN 0-89815-489-8 wonderfully evocative.
      Bread Builders. Hearth loaves and Masonry Ovens - Daniel Wing and Alan Scott. The definitive book on building and using brick bread ovens.
      The Bread Baker's Apprentice - Peter Reinhart
      Breads from the La Brea Bakery - Nancy Silverton
      Elizabeth David English Bread and Yeast Cookery ISBN 0-14-046791 is, like all her books, masterly for its time.
      Tom Jaine, Building a Wood Fired Oven for Bread and Pizza. Prospect Books ISBN 0907325
      Web resources
      www.danlepard.com
      www.fourgrandmere.com (Click on the Union Jack to get the English version).
      www.sfbi.com
      www.demarle.com
      www.sourdoughhome.com
      http://samartha.net
      www.sourdo.com
      www.faqs.org SLKinsey is a contributor- a good resource.
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
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