Rustic Italian Bread

I ran across a four ingredient, no knead, no stretch and fold, Italian bread. I am on my third bake of this bread, each with minor tweaks.

Version 1 was as presented. Version 2 was as presented but baked in a Dutch oven (my preferred baking method.) Version 3 included Cake and Bread Enhancer (fifth ingredient) and was baked flat on a baking stone.

Version 1 was excellent. Version 2 was excellent. Version 3 was excellent. All three had great, crispy crusts and a soft tender crumb on the inside.

My current favorite is (was) my high hydration honey no-knead bread, but this may be my new go to. It’s even easier than the honey no-knead. Simply mix everything together the let it ferment for 2 hours. Gently pour out, (I do mean pour, it is high hydration, slack and sticky,) minimally shape and bake. All done!

My goal is to create larger holes in the bread. Version 2 (center) and 3 (right) were the best. I overworked the fermented dough a little too much in Version 1. Try, try, and try again!

Rustic Italian Bread

INGREDIENTS
• 380 g AP flour + more for dusting
• 20 g (3 Tbl) Bread Enhancer
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 350 g warm water
• 2 tsp active dry yeast

METHOD

  1. Add the flour, enhancer, salt and yeast to your stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment to mix and combine so no dry patches remain.
  2. Add the warm water and mix until everything is incorporated and a soft, wet dough forms. It will be a slack, sticky dough.
  3. Loosely cover the bowl with plastic and let the dough rise at room temperature (See tip below) for 2 to 3 hours or until doubled in size.
  4. Dust your kitchen counter with flour and scrape the very sticky dough out with a bowl scraper.
  5. With floured hands shape the dough into a ball (or batard,) deflating it as little as possible.
  6. Line a banneton with parchment paper. (See tip below)
  7. Place the ball of dough in the lined banneton smooth side up and let it rest while your oven heats up.
  8. Use a sharp knife or lame to lightly slash an X in the top of the loaf.
  9. Preheat your oven to 450 F with a dutch oven inside for about 45 minutes before baking the bread. Fill an oven proof bowl with 2 inches of water and place it on the bottom rack.
  10. Once hot, carefully transfer the bread loaf into the dutch oven using the parchment paper.
  11. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 5 minutes until golden brown on top. The internal temperature should be 205 F
  12. Remove the bread from the dutch oven and transfer to a cooling rack or it won’t stay crispy.

TIPS

  1. Lining a round banneton: Crumple parchment paper starting from the edges. You should end up with a ball which will smooth out to fill the round banneton
  2. Room temperature proofing: I like to put the bowl in an “off” oven with the light on. In the winter my kitchen tends to be cool (62-65 F) My “off” oven with the light on is 78o F.

From King Arthur Baking’s Cake and Bread Enhancer: A “miracle” ingredient for your cakes!

(From KAB) Our bakers have called this the “miracle” ingredient for many reasons: it makes cakes and other baked goods softer, moister, and helps them stay fresher longer. Our blend contains vegetable fats that act as emulsifiers, allowing the fats and liquids in your favorite recipe to combine more easily. The enhancer also acts as a stabilizer and texture enhancer. Cake enhancers are commonly used in professional bakeries to keep breads fresh and soft, and help cakes stay light and fluffy. It’s especially great for making soft sandwich loaves.

Dede’s Bakery President’s Day Continued

While I was waiting for other items to mix/chill/rise/etc I made a few other items this morning.

We were nearly out of bread (amazing.) I made a loaf of my honey high-hydration no-knead bread. This may be the prettiest loaf I have made. The slashes on top were well defined and kept the bread from blowing out anywhere else.

Oh, by the way, there are three-berry scones in the background. I like to freeze them, then on golf days take them from the freezer and snack on them on the course. They don’t seem to help my game, but do make it more enjoyable.

This time, I made the scones bigger than usual. I used some frozen berries we had (ever frugal) and had trouble incorporating them into the dough. They ended up being delicious!

Pain de Cristal

I subscribe to King Arthur Baking’s newsletter and occasionally they distribute a new recipe, or technique that I cannot resist trying. Well, this is one of those times. They included a video that demonstrated the techniques required to handle very high hydration breads. This one is 100%, which means 1:1 water to flour ratio and I could never have made this bread without their technique, (which worked perfectly.)

QC says it’s like eating air.

Big holes and perfect crust. Pair with butter, honey, or oil and vinegar. Oh my!
This was my dessert tonight. Buttered Pain de Cristal and honey.

While KAF’s videos demonstrating the bowl and coil folds I decided to make my own. (Theirs are better quality, mine may be truer to life.)

Mix all ingredients then let rest 20 minutes
First fold with extremely slack dough. With wet hand stretch a portion of the dough up and into the middle of the dish. Repeat at least 12 times then rest, covered, 20 minutes
This is the second (or third, I forget) coil fold. With wet hands pick up the dough about 3/4ths of the way, stretch it up and let it fall back under the bulk of the dough. Repeat with the other end, then repeat the entire fold several times. Note the dough becomes easier to handle and less sticky with each coil fold. There are a total of 4 coil folds.
Tip the dough out onto a heavily floured surface. Cover top with more flour so there are no sticky spots. Use a bench knife to cut into four equal pieces and flour the edges where you cut.
Carefully, without deflating, shape the dough and place on parchment paper. Let rest for 2 hours.
Note the bubbles formed in the dough. For future bakes I would let the dough rest longer than 2 hours to develop more aeration, bubbles and holes in the final brea.

Ingredients

  • 500g water (80 F in warm weather, 100F if cold)
  • 500g Bread Flour
  • 2.5g (3/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 15g olive oil

 

METHOD

  1. Pretty much see the captions in the above videos.