By Helen Bismark
It all begins with the basic kitchen ingredients; flour, water, salt, and yeast. Artisan bread or basic sandwich bread? Fruit and nut infused or herb bread? Decisions, decisions, decisions.
I decided to make artisan bread and chose the White Bread with Poolish recipe from the book Flour Water Salt Yeast.
While this recipe is based on just those basic ingredients, it also involves an investment of time and dedication to a detailed process. Having the right tools makes the steps manageable.
First I had to make poolish- consisting of flour, water and yeast- the night before.
I used a square cambro for making my dough, though in the future I would recommend using a round container which would make it easier to handle because it was hard to get into the corners.
A bench scraper is the way to go when separating your final dough.
Shaping your dough into medium tight balls creates a great shape outcome.
Using the Staub covered cocottes was an ideal way to make a hard crust to protect the bubbly inner bread "guts".
Plus the Staub was really easy to clean, and creates a great little "oven inside an oven".
Do not forget to preheat your Staub/dutch oven before baking.
Rolling something, like a long handled wooden spoon, down the middle of the loaf creates a lovely crease on the finished loaf and makes it easier to pick the dough up in a folded shape from your work surface to put it in your dutch oven without burning yourself.
I definitely recommend that you eat the bread the first day. Its texture is so much better the first day when the crust is crisp and the inside still moist.
I know it might smell tasty and you’d want to eat it right out of the oven, but you need to remember that it was inside an oven within an oven so you need to cool it down at least 10-15 minutes before slicing.
A nice sharp serrated utility or offset bread knife allows you to get through the hearty crust using motion - rather than force - to slice, preserving the soft interior texture without squishing the warm loaf.