First up, the weeknight sandwich bread with whole wheat:
The recipe: 600 grams total flour — 200 grams whole wheat (the picture above utilizes freshly milled hard red winter wheat), 400 grams bread flour (King Arthur), 420 grams room temperature water (70% hydration),12 grams kosher salt (2% of total flour weight), 1.5 teaspoons instant yeast.
- Place the whole wheat flour in the mixing bowl. Combine with all of the water and let rest and hydrate for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
- Add the other ingredients to the bowl and mix on low speed for 8 minutes.
- Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
- Fold the dough so that it will fit into a 9″ x 5″ bread pan. I used a fair amount of surface tension, which may have helped the dough rise evenly.
- Cover and let rise for two hours. At the 90-minute mark set the oven to 425F
- Slash the dough down the center.
- Bake for 10 minutes covered with another upside-down bread pan. Remove the cover and bake for another 35 minutes.
So it’s totally doable after work, assuming you get home at a reasonable time. All-up it’s about 4.5 – 5 hours and most of that is hands-off.
It’s just flour / water / salt / yeast and no honey or oil. I don’t think it misses the other additions. If anything the finished crust was slightly less crunchy, which is fine for a sandwich bread.
The other “first try” this week was Adam Leonti’s “Yeasted Bread” from Flour Lab:
It’s not perfect, but it’s not a bad first attempt. The bottom is a little denser than I would have preferred. I could have been more gentle transferring the dough to the dutch oven — it unceremoniously and surprisingly popped right out of the proofing bowl and landed with a thud. I may try a parchment sling next time for a nicer transition to the oven. I may also use a banneton but there’s two pounds of flour in the loaf and I don’t currently own a banneton large enough to contain the dough.
The Yeasted Loaf is an 80% hydration dough using all milled hard winter wheat, he recommends Red Fife. As of now I have Palouse brand “generic” hard winter wheat so I used that. I also have Red Fife and three other heirloom wheat berries on order through Breadtopia. (That will be another blog post.) The recipe also calls for fresh yeast. I substituted dried yeast at 1/3 the quantity of fresh. It seemed to work out fine.
Another interesting bit is that the recipe calls for 1/8″ deep scoring, which I took literally. The bread wound up bursting along and around one of the cuts. I’m inclined to try deeper scoring next time. 1/8″ isn’t much.
The Yeasted Loaf was served at a small party and was well received. Preparation involves two overnight stays in the refrigerator followed by baking on day three and eating on day four. I started it Wednesday for the Saturday event. I felt like everything in the process was either very well explained or had multiple pictures illustrating what Leonti was asking for. I think it’s a loaf where having some experience working with breads helps — if I hadn’t done something *exactly* before I’d done something similar at some point. But I guess the book assumes that if you’re working with freshly milled flour you probably didn’t start baking breads yesterday.
I’ve read most of Bread Lab through at least once and there’s a lot to like. Everything is weights and metric. There can be many steps to creating the breads but they’re well explained and laid out. I never found I got to “page 2” and discovered something I should have known about up front. It feels like the recipes aren’t overly fiddly. The heirloom wheat berry recommendations are helpful too, it beats trying to find a consensus starting point for “best uses” of the berry varieties on the internet. All in all there are a lot of approachable breads in the book, as well as a nice section on fresh pasta, which is something else I’ve been making lately. Recommended.