I know I've recently mentioned by current favorite cooking book Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. Well I've been really trying to perfect some basics lately, (hence the chocolate chip cookies) so I've been making a bunch of different variations on his bread ratio.
It's been awesome to kind of figure this whole thing out and see the improvements as I go and well, I guess if that's what I've been baking then I should be sharing it here, right? right.
Also I really feel like, if you're a baker, or even if you just enjoy making things, then bread is about the most satisfying thing you can make. Especially if you make it right. (Michael Ruhlman says pasta is the biggest joy to work with, but I haven't gotten to that chapter yet.) Now I know this recipe sounds a little complicated but it's really quite easy and it is completely and totally worth it. Plus.. kneading is great fun.
Recipe Soundtrack: "Tell Em" By Surfer Blood (Feels obvious but it's great kneading music. Which is what ya really need here.)
So the important thing to know is that the basic ratio for bread is 5 parts flour to 3 parts water.
And here is what I did with it:
Inspired by Ratio
20 oz Bread Flour (about 4 cups - but scales are where its at with this stuff)
12 oz water
2 teaspoons warm water
1 teaspoon active or instant yeast
3 tablespoons (au pif) minced garlic
1 teaspoon or so of honey
extra salt for the top - kosher or pretzel salt would work as well
Put flour into a mixing bowl or stand mixer and add water. Then add the 2 teaspoons of salt and sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water to allow it to dissolve. Stir together by hand until yeast dissovles. Add garlic and honey and continue stirring until dough starts to come together. Transfer to food processor. Pulse in the food processor until dough sticks together more and combines thoroughly.
Flour your kneading surface and turn dough out on it. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (To make sure its kneaded enough you can cut off a piece and stretch it. If you can stretch it until its translucent without tearing it, its ready.
Form dough into a ball and put back in your mixing bowl with a little bit of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise until it double in size. (You should be able to poke a finger into it without it springing back)
Preheat oven to 450º F.
Turn the dough out onto floured surface and knead to expel excess gas and redistribute the yeast. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for another 10 to 15 minutes.
Shape dough into a boule by pushing it back and forth on the counter in a circular motion until you have a round smooth ball. (You could really do any shape you want but since I prefer the dutch oven method, the boule works best for me)
Once shaped, cover the dough with a dish towel again and allow it to proof for about an hour. You could also cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to day (if you do this make sure to let the dough sit at room temperature for at least and hour and half before baking.) When ready to bake, score your dough to help it expand and sprinkle with salt (or olive oil and salt if you wish) and put it into an oiled dutch oven with a lid
Bake at 450º for 10 minutes and reduce the temperature to 375ºF and continue baking until done, 45 to 50 minutes. (Take lid off dutch oven halfway through baking - The dutch oven helps create steam and makes the crust crispy and the inside moist.)
And voila! So amazingly delicious. We ate this whole thing in less than 24 hours, and believe me I'll be making it again very soon. Next on the list is ciabatta and baguettes!