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Sunday, October 14, 2012

ijj's NEW Rustic Artisan Bread

As you know, I love bread, and have been continually practising and bettering my bread-baking technique for years.

Each new attempt is a better one.

Well... this latest iteration was a veritable "Eureka" moment.

It was leaps and bounds ahead of previous breads.

And here's why.


I don't know why such a simple step is omitted and conspicuously absent from so many recipes, but I've found - for whatever reason - it worked wonders for my bread recipe.

Whether you call it Preferment (pre-ferment), Biga, Poolish, or even Mother-Dough, they're all essentially the same thing.  With some variation (mostly having to do with moistness/sponginess), they are all used to give your bread dough a kick start basically.

And I have to say it works wonders.

Having only used this technique once (why, I ask you, amongst all of my years (decades!) of bread recipe research, I've only now stumbled upon this?) I can say I will be using it faithfully from here on.  Without question.

So, basically it's a two-step dough, with the preferment being made up the day before and allowing a long slow rise.

My recipe is complicated, and I don't really feel like listing it here... 

How about this - if you're REALLY (I mean seriously) interested in the entire recipe - message me and I will happily send it to you or send a link to it online or something...


The important thing is that the preferment is basically a small amount of the dough mixed up beforehand.  Flour, water, salt, and yeast are all there, mixed wet and messy.  Covered and left to sit out at room temperature for about a half a day (up to 16 hours I've heard).

Then, it is mixed evenly into your regular bread dough, which is going to be a little higher in flour content, obviously.  If you have a mixer, then it can just be added easily enough.  However, I make my bread by hand... so I chopped my preferment up into small pieces and kneaded each into the dough painstakingly.

After this, it is just your regular bread recipe as usual.

Knead the crap out of it.

Let it rise for about 2-3 hours, punching it down (degassing) a couple times during the rise.
Cut and shape the dough, cover it and let it rise one final time for about 2 hours.

Bake at 450° (yup!), but place a casserole or baking dish filled with water on the bottom oven rack while baking.

Score the loaves, and bake for 35 minutes, turning them 180° halfway through baking.

Without a doubt, the best bread I've ever baked.  Totally worth the extra effort.