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I made bread using this recipe every week in the last 6 months and its pretty solid

 

The recipe is based entirely on this YouTube playlist by Alex the “French guy cooking”, it’s a good watch

 

For good measure (pun intended) you should have :

  1. Grams scale
  2. Measuring cup
  3. Two plastic containers which are comfortable for mixing (mid-size and tall) with tight lids
  4. Bowl scraper
  5. Bakers Lame or razor blade, or a sharp paring knife
  6. Proofing basket (a floured towel in a bowl worked for me initially)
  7. Water sprayer
  8. Time and patience

 

For the starter

  1. Friendly starter (i might write here how to make one from scratch, soon)
  2. Some fancy flour, preferably organic and whole grain, I used two types or flour to create my own starter,
  3. I used 2 flours from Red mill: Dark Rye, and Spelt flour, in a 50%-50% mix, you want to use fancy organic stuff to get the good germs in your starter, or so it is said, making starter from regular flour did not worked for me.

 

How to handle live starter:

  1. keep in refrigerator
  2. Once a week (Wednesday works well), take two tablespoons out to the other container and leave aside.
  3. Add 40g flour mix, 40g water to the main starter container, mix well, close tightly and return to refrigerator.
  4. If your tap water is hard, use bottled water (I use tap water and its fine)

 

With the starter you set aside you can make bread for the weekend:

 

This recipe starts on Wednesday and ends on Friday, so plan accordingly 🙂

 

For the bread, you will need:

  1. Unbleached flour bread, I use king Arthur, but also experimenting with others
  2. Water
  3. Large bowl
  4. Plastic wrap
  5. Time and the rest of the stuff from the top list

 

First buff and wake up the starter:

Add 100g bread flour and 100g water to the starter and mix well, close the lid partially and leave on the counter overnight (in a rush, you can leave for proofing in an oven, i.e. no heat, oven light on and it’ll be ready in about 4 hours)

You know its ready when it doubled it size in the container, so mark a line when you start.

A good test is if a bit of starter floats in water

 

A note about quantities,

The measuring system in the videos is using doubles, i.e 200g starter, 400g water, 600g flour

However, French flours are different, and I found that using an approximation of golden ratio (x/1.6), results in dough that is closer to what the video shows, i.e. 234g starter, 375g starter, 600g flour, and for King Arthur brand I gradually reduced the water quantity even more as below.

 

Making bread:

  1. In a large bowl add 350g of water (for king Arthur flour)
  2. Disolve 235g of starter into the water using a spoon or hands
  3. Add 600g bread flour and mix by hand until looks like a dough
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rest on counter for 30-60 min
  5. Uncover, add 12g salt, and just a bit of water and knead into the dough
  6. Take the sticky dough out to a clean smooth counter surface and fold for 10 minutes (what?! I know)
    1. See here how (min 3:45 )
  7. Put the dough ball back in the bowl and cover for 4hrs…
  8. Take the dough out to a counter top fold the edges toward the center (see in the video), sprinkle with flour and flip upside down, sprinkle some more flour on top and loosely cover with plastic wrap for 30 minutes
  9. In the meantime, flour your proofing basket heavily, some use mix with rice flour, I use bread and semolina mix
  10. Flip down side up again and fold the dough into a tight ball, watch the video, its hard to explain, watch.
  11. And rest upside down in the proofing basket, sprinkle flour and cover with plastic wrap,
  12. Place in the refrigerator, overnight
  13. The next morning (BTW, waking up too late might cause overproofing) take the proofing basket to the counter and let rest for two hours
  14. place a Dutch oven in the oven and Heat the oven to 480F
  15. When the temp is reached, take the Dutch oven out to the stove top
  16. Take the dough from the proofing basket to a floured tray (or directly into the dutch oven – may require some practice)
    1. I started using baking sheet in the Dutch oven to prevent bread sticking to it, it allow me to have lighter color loaves, I cut slits in the baking sheet to fit the Dutch oven oval shape
  17. Lift the dough gently and nestle it into the Dutch oven
  18. Using a lame scar the dough in sharp 30* angle from the surface, length wise to the loaf shape
    1. This controls the rise and shape of the loaf
  19. Spray the inside of the Dutch oven lid with water to create steam, and close the lid on the loaf
  20. Put the Dutch oven back in the oven
  21. reduce temp to 430 immediately and set timer to 25 min, do not open lid during this time
  22. After 25 min, open lid, rotate Dutch oven 180 degrees to balance the heat and set timer to another 18-25 minutes
  23. Watch color and remove when ready
  24. Flip Dutch oven over counter carefully, the loaf should separate easily, if it doesn’t, try to return to oven a bit more
    1. I had a few issues like this, that’s why I use baking sheet now
  25. Tap on back of Loaf, should make hollow kind of sound
  26. Let rest on a rack until totally cool down before cutting into it, to prevent quick drying of the loaf
  27. From experience, the loaf remain perfectly fresh and tasty up to a week or so, if kept in a cool place in a nylon bag
  28. I slice and freeze extra quantities and failed experiments… 🙂

That’s all, let me know how it turned out in the comments