All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2018

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Twelve Hour Bread: food of the gods

I never know when a new recipe will catch my eye, or where I'll find it. This delicious Pain de Campagne recipe came from a novel I was reading: Bread Alone, by Judith Ryan Hendricks. Smack in the middle of following Wynter Morrison's divorce and her new life as breadbaker in Seattle, there appeared this jewel of an authentic French bread . The recipe looked long. I went into the kitchen anyway. Twelve hours later, I ate the best bread I've ever made - chewy crust, perfect crumb, golden loaves. Warm from the oven, it was food of the gods. I found the flavor diminished when I stored it in a plastic bag for up to two days, so I think next time I'll freeze one loaf and see if that improves the longevity.
But what an accomplishment! At this point, I'm feeling fearless and ready to tackle any bread recipe that comes my way.
Recipe from Bread Alone:
First, you have to make the sponge, or poolish:
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup whole wheat flour ( I used King Arthur)
Dissolve yeast in water, then stir in the flour until it forms a thick batter. Beat about a hundred strokes to develop the gluten. Cover with a damp tea towel and let sit at least four hours, or up to eight, at room temperature. When poolish is ready, it will be bubbly and loose with a lovely scent.
Pain de Campagne
All of the poolish
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
between 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups unbleached King Arthur flour
1 T. kosher salt
Scrape the poolish into your mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, add the yeast and water to the poolish, beating on low until frothy.
Add the flour one cup at a time. I think I used 6 or more cups of flour plus more for kneading. Because my beloved KitchenAid was straining a bit, I scraped the sticky dough onto a floured counter and did the kneading by hand, flicking flour onto the dough and counter as needed. I realized this was a lively, dense, somewhat wet dough, so I tried not to overdo the flour. After 10 minutes of kneading, sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead it in. The dough will still be sticky, but I think that's what gives it such a nice, chewy crust. Place dough in oiled bowl, turning the dough so it's oiled all over. Cover with a damp tea towel and let sit until doubled in size - about 3 hours.
Deflate the dough and let rest for 30 minutes.
Cut dough into two pieces, and gently form rounds or baguettes. I made rounds. Place the rounds on a floured baking sheet, then dust the tops with flour. Cover with a damp tea towel again and let rise for about 2 hours ( or more), until it's not quite doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 425F.
Bring a teakettle to the boil, and pour 2 inches of boiling water into an ovenproof pan.
Place pan filled with water on lower oven rack.
Slash the tops of the bread with a sharp knife , or razor. Sprinkle a little flour on tops, again.
Slip the bread onto the top rack and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the loaves thump when you knock on the bottoms.
Turn off the oven, and prop the door open. Let loaves sit another 5 minutes.
Remove to cooling rack.
Do not cut bread until fully cooled. I cheated. After 20 minutes, I tore chunks ( which I think makes the bread taste better) of sweet, chewy bread off while still warm and slathered the bread with unsalted butter. Incredible.


Angry Asian said...

i am always always always looking for a new bread recipe. what is it about homemade bread that makes one smile so?

i'd love to make this tonight but due to the timing, this is more like a Sunday adventure. it'll happen. :) thanks so much for sharing.

Kate said...

I daily read your blog, and have left only one comment. Coming out of the shadows today to once again tell you that I love your recipes, reading, simplicity of the photos and kitchen magic! Thank you, thank you! Just seeing these loaves stirs up the joy of homemade bread. :)

Chef Fresco said...

12 Hours! Holly Molly! I love bread but I'll have to rely on the bakery for this dish. It looks fantastic though a truly excellent and ambitious creation.

Barb said...

Hi Katrina ~ This bread looks (and from your description) wonderful!! 12 Hours is quite the commitment, isn't it? It seems that there's really nothing much better than homemade bread.

By the way, did you like the book, 'Bread Alone'?

katrina said...

Delighted to share, Angry Asian - and you're right that this is a Sunday or day off adventure! It's not 12 hours straight work, but it's just too easy to go off doing errands and forget about the dough risings....

katrina said...

Kate! I love you! Thank you for showing yourself for a second time - I am devoted to my loyal followers; even when I don't feel like writing a post, I kick myself in the backside, thinking of those wonderful people who stop by to read. I deeply appreciate you and so happy you liked these loaves of bread....

katrina said...

Aw, Chefs Fresco - surely you're up for a challenge? No? Well, I didn't think I was either, but I think curiousity bugged this kat ( sorry:) until she plunged in.
Thanks for the swing-by!

katrina said...

Hi Barb! I do have my moments with bread passion, but not often. It was a revelation that a sticky, barely yeasted bread dough could blossom into such a tasty loaf of bread!
Bread Alone, the novel was fine, though I find it sometimes bordered on chick lit, which is not my usual reading. For me, it was all about the recipes and descriptions of French breadbaking.
Thanks again, for being another faithful reader! I love you, too!

Amanda said...

How very awesome! I am bookmarking this, what a cool way to find it too :)

katrina said...

Awesome it is, Amanda! I always feel it's a wink from the heavens when I come across a recipe in some random way -
Glad you enjoyed - and I know you'll completely enjoy the 12 hours it takes to finally, FINALLY, eat the most delicious chunk of bread you've had yet. Thanks so much!

Michelle said...

I tried this yesterday :) sooo good! The flavor is so wonderful...I was wondering if you had any advice for it not rising quite right? my poolish developed wonderfully but after mixing the dough it was very reluctant to rise. I live in Denver so mildly high altitude but I wouldn't think that would affect it too much. Would a less than tropical kitchen hurt it too?

katrina said...

Michelle - yes, I would think the dough would need more time if the temperature in the kitchen is cool. Bread seems to be one of those things you have to go more by looks than the clock. I don't know anything about high altitude baking, but imagine that might be a factor as well. Baking bread is such an inexact science! Hope you try again with better results - and let me know!

Michelle said...

I did make it again :) and it came out awesomely!! I think I added too much flour the first time. Thank you for posting wonderful recipes!

katrina said...

Wonderful, Michelle! Thanks for the feedback - I can understand your wanting to add more flour because it's so sticky. I was tempted, too - but knew sticky dough usually means a great bread, eventually.