Saturday, October 26, 2013

Overnight White Bread: Flour Water Salt Yeast

I can't get enough of crusty fresh baked bread. This recipe is adapted from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. You mix the four ingredients in the afternoon, let it bulk ferment overnight at room temperature, then bake the next morning. Forkish's recipe makes 2 one and a half pound loaves. I halved the recipe.

I started using a digital scale to measure by weights. I highly recommend this not just because it's more accurate, but there's less to clean up. You set your bowl on the scale, hit tare to reset the measurement and then you can just pour your flour or water into the bowl until the display reads the desired amount. No measuring cups to wash.

500 g white flour (I used the Wegman's house brand all-purpuse unbleached)
390 g warm water (between 90 and 95 degrees)
11g salt 
1/8 tsp Instant dried yeast 

Loosely combine the flour and water and let it rest for 20 minutes. This hydrates the flour and is called the autolyse stage.

Sprinkle the salt and yeast over the dough and give it it's first mix. Ken Forkish has a youtube video where he demonstrates his pincer technique of mixing. You basically fold the dough over itself, scooping from the bottom, rotating around the bowl, then pinching with thumb and index finger four or five times across the ball of dough. Repeat this 4 times, waiting 30 seconds before doing the last fold so it develops some spring. Cover with plastic wrap. The dough kind of smells like wall paper paste at this point. I think it's because there's no sugar or anything in it. The flavor develops from the overnight fermentation and it will smell great after baking.

Repeat this mixing process another 3 times, 20 minutes apart. Let rest covered overnight for about 14 hours.

At this point you would divide the dough and shape the loaves, but since I halved the recipe there's nothing to divide. In lieu of an actual proofing basket, flour another bowl, tighten up the dough ball and rest it seem side down in the bowl for an hour. It's ready to bake when it bounces bake slowly from being finger poked half an inch. My dough was a little too wet to easily tighten up the ball so I sprinkled more flour as I tightened it.

Place a dutch oven with lid on in the oven and preheat to 475 degrees F about 45 minutes before baking. When it's time to bake, carefully take the lid off the dutch oven and place the proofed loaf inside it, inverted so it's now seem side up, and replace the lid. 
Bake for 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake another 20 to 30 minutes until the crust is a medium dark brown. Carefully remove the dutch oven and pour the bread out of it and let it cool. If you listen close you'll hear the crust crackling as it cools.

Autolyse stage

Mix in salt and yeast
After first mix
After 14 hour bulk fermentation
Just out of the oven

Ken Forkish's Mixing/folding technique:

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