Dutch Oven Focaccia Boule

Last week I braved a bit of a Dutch oven bread experiment.  Starting with my recipe for High Rise Focaccia posted here some time ago, I adapted it for baking as a boule in my dutch oven.  My plan was to let the very wet dough rise for two hours, then to shape it as a boule and let it rest for 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 450º with the 4-quart Dutch oven inside.

But I got diverted off-task by an impromptu invitation from my husband to go out for lunch, so the rise was actually between 3-4 hours.  As it turned out, that was terrific.  The longer rise helped the dough develop just the light, airy texture I wanted, so I’ll do it that way again.

Very pleased with the outcome – a light, crunchy crust and a soft, airy, chewy interior.

Like almost every bread I’ve baked this way, it was another simple way to produce superb bread in your own kitchen.  Haven’t purchased a store-bought loaf in over a year!

DUTCH OVEN ROSEMARY-ROMANO FOCACCIA BOULE

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 cups lukewarm water

7 grams SAF instant yeast (or 1 envelope other quick yeast)

3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour

1-1/2 tsp kosher salt

2-3 tbsp grated pecorino romano

2-3 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 PREPARATION:

In large mixing bowl, stir yeast into the water to dissolve.  Add 2 cups of the flour, rosemary, cheese, and salt and stir briskly until smooth. Add remaining 1 cup flour and the olive oil, stir again until well incorporated and dough pulls away from sides of bowl.  Cover with plastic and let rise at least two hours, preferably 3-4.

Pour out dough onto lightly flour bread board and use a dough scraper to coax it into a boule shape.  The dough will be very soft and sticky, so sprinkle a bit more flour to help shape it but do not incorporate that into the dough.  Place the boule on a sheet of parchment and place that back in the cleaned bowl.  Cover with towel or plastic and let rest 15-20 minutes while you preheat a 4-6 quart Dutch oven in a 450º oven.

Make three slashes across the top of the boule and sprinkle with a bit more flour.  Take the hot Dutch oven out and very carefully place the boule in its parchment sling into it.  Baking it in the parchment will assure that nothing sticks.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove lid and bake for another 12 minutes.

Use oven mitts to take the bread out of the pot and let cool on a rack at least one hour.

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Montreal-style Bagels

My effort at producing multigrain bagels two weeks ago was less successful than I’d hoped (I deleted that blog post) so my challenge last Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, was to perfect a chewy bagel that would rival those from the best bagel bakeries of my youth.

Once again I turned to a recipe from the NYT Cooking site for inspiration, and found a recipe for Montreal Bagels, chewy and with a hint of sweetness.  I was surprised to find the dough contained elements of a challah – sweetener and eggs – albeit in lesser proportion to the flour – and required only two very short rises before their boiling bath and baking.

I made several adjustments to the NYT recipe, making 9 large bagels versus 18 small ones, reducing the baking time to prevent burning of the undersides, using less honey in the dough  From start to finish, this took about 1-1/2 hours, and the verdict was unanimous – best bagels we’ve ever had.

 

MONTREAL-STYLE BAGELS

adapted from NYT Cooking site

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INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 cups room temperature water

14 grams SAF Instant yeast (or 2 packets other instant yeast)

1 tsp sugar

2-1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk

1/4 cup vegetable oil + a bit more for greasing bowl

2/3 cup honey divided

5-1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour (or other bread flour)

3 quarts water for boiling

sesame and/or poppy seeds for sprinkling on top

TOOLS:

Stand mixer with 5-quart bowl and dough hook

A separate large bowl

Heavy wooden spoon or spatula

2 rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper

5-quart pot

A bread board or similar work surface

Kitchen scale – very helpful if you have one to make the bagels equal size

Large slotted spoon

PREPARATION:

  1. In the large mixing bowl of stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, sugar and salt.  Stir in the egg and egg yolk, oil and 1/3 cup of the honey and mix well by hand.
  2. Add 5 cups of flour one cup at a time, stirring by hand, and then knead with the dough hook to form a soft, supple dough (about 8 minutes).  Add remaining 1/2 cup of flour a couple of minutes into the kneading.
  3. Lightly grease another large bowl with oil and use a spatula to turn the dough out into it.  Cover tightly with plastic and let rest 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring the 3 quarts water and remaining 1/3 cup honey to boil, then reduce and cover to keep simmering until you’re ready to use. Preheat oven to 450º.
  5. Punch down the dough and remove it to bread board.  The dough should weigh about 1300 grams.  Divide it into 9 equal pieces, about 145 grams each.
  6. Roll each piece into a ball, flatten slightly and poke a hole through the middle with your thumb.  Work the dough around the whole with your fingers to enlarge it and place the shaped dough on parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving room between.  Only 6 will fit on one sheet, place the remaining 3 on the other.  Let them rest about 15 minutes.
  7. Return pot of water to gentle boil and drop 3 bagels in.  They will float.  flip them over with a large slotted spoon and continue to boil for a little over a minute.  Remove with the slotted spoon, place them back on the parchment-lined baking sheets and immediately sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.  Repeat this process for all nine.
  8. Bake first batch on center rack of oven for 20 minutes, to a deep golden brown -then repeat with second batch.  Remove to a cooling rack as soon as each batch is done.

These keep well in a plastic bag in your breadbox for 6 days, or can be sliced and frozen.

 

 

Can’t Stop Baking No-Knead Artisan Bread

 

fullsizeoutput_9e3Forgive me if I repeat myself, but I continue to be amazed at how simple it is for a home cook to turn out a bread like this.   Anyone who’s never tried bread baking for fear of failure or of time-consuming hands-on work should just set all that aside and jump on this bandwagon of no-knead artisan baking.

Do you have an oven?  Check.  Do you have a cast iron Dutch oven with 4-6 quart capacity?  Check.  Now all you need is a few readily available ingredients and a bit of planning for the 10 hours it will take your dough to work its magic before you touch it again a half hour before baking.

The quality of your flour and yeast is essential for success.  I’ve been baking bread on and off for over 25 years with various bread flours and with all-purpose flour enhanced with vital wheat gluten.  I have never worked with anything that comes close to Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour for outstanding results.

The package has your basic recipe, to which I’ve added the technique of using a parchment sling, the dusting of flour and the slashes across the top for that genuine artisan look.  And for this latest loaf, I tried something that worked to both amp up the leavening and a bit of sourdough taste – two tablespoons of plain yogurt mixed in with the warm water.  With or without the yogurt, when this bread comes out of your oven you’ll be patting yourself on the back and making excuses to do it again and again.

BASIC NO-KNEAD ARTISAN BREAD

(ADAPTED FROM BOB’S RED MILL)

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour, plus more for dusting later

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp SAF instant yeast (or other high quality instant yeast)

2 tbsp plain yogurt (I used goat milk yogurt) plus enough lukewarm water to measure 1-1/2 cups; or simply 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water

PREPARATION:

Plan to start this either early in the morning so you can bake right before dinner, or late at night to be baked the next morning.  In a 5-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast.  In a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, stir together the yogurt and lukewarm water.  If not using yogurt, just use 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water.

With a sturdy silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir the liquid into dry ingredients until it all looks like a soft, ragged dough.  Make sure to get all the bits of dry flour that might cling to your bowl.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap – not touching the dough – and set it aside for 10 hours.  I stash mine in the microwave overnight to protect it from mischievous cats.

Meanwhile, go about whatever activities you normally do, including possibly sleep, and come back to this 10 hours later.  This is what you should see:

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Amazing, huh?  Yes, it’s alive.  Now, place your Dutch oven on the middle rack of your oven and turn the temperature to 450º.  Set a timer for 30 minutes.  Scrape your dough onto a generously floured work surface or bread board and, with floured hands, coax it into a round shape.  Rinse out your bowl, line it with a large sheet of parchment, and gently move your dough into the bowl.  Cover it loosely with plastic.

When your 30-minute timer goes off, sprinkle a bit of flour across the top of your dough, cut three vertical slashes across the top, take your screaming hot Dutch oven out with your best oven mitts, move it to a heat-proof surface, and lower your dough into it in its parchment sling.  Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.  This is where more magic happens, as the dough releases steam inside the pot, and rises again to become bread.  After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking uncovered for another 12 minutes.

That’s it.  All you need now is the patience to let it cool on a rack for at least an hour before slicing.  I really want to hear from you after you’ve tried this for the first time.

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