Friday, June 29, 2007
Bread Baking Day #1: Bread with Herbs
When I was invited by Zorra of Kochtopf to participate in Bread Baking Day, I thought "what a great idea". Finding myself in a bit of a bread baking rut lately this seems like a great way to pull myself up out of it and bake some great bread! The theme for this month's event is herbs which is perfect as I've found my garden overrun by the sage and rosemary planted last year. I decided to make a biga (a pre-ferment dough, recipe found here) yesterday and then progress with some form of bread today. Feeling a bit experimental, I decided to just wing it and see what I could come up with. Leftover brown and wild rice in my refrigerator combined with the herbs, flour, yeast, water, biga and lots of love gave me a wonderful bread that just begs to be toasted and spread with some nice goat cheese and the leftovers (if any of it is allowed to go stale) will make for a great stuffing of some sort.
Sage Rosemary and Wild Rice Bread: (makes 2 large Boules)
1 recipe of Biga
1 cup cooked wild rice and brown rice blend (this should be cool or at room temperature)
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups cool water
1/2 cup chopped fresh sage
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tsp salt
5-6 cups unbleached bread flour (you want enough to have a smooth soft elastic dough)
kosher salt to sprinkle over the loaves right before they bake
-About an hour before baking, pull your biga out of the refrigerator, cut it into 8 or 9 pieces and let it rest, covered with plastic wrap) for about an hour to remove the chill.
-In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the biga, rice, yeast, sugar, water and olive oil until the biga is a bit broken up.
-Add the flour, salt and herbs, mix until the dough forms a ball and then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (as smooth as the rice will let you make it) about 10 to 12 minutes. The dough will be fairly soft, but not tacky.
-Form the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl large enough to allow for the dough to double, that has been sprayed with pan spray or lightly coated in oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise for about an hour and a half until double in bulk.
-Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently press to de-gas. Cut the dough into two equal parts and form it into boules (boule is French for ball or round). If you don't have a baking stone, place the boules onto a sheet pan that has been sprinkled with cornmeal (if you don't have cornmeal, you may also just spray it with pan spray, I find the cornmeal gives a nice bit of crunch on the bottoms of the loaves).
If you do have a baking stone, place the boules onto a baking peel or a cutting board sprinkled with cornmeal (I don't have a peel, so I use a cutting board that is big enough to hold both loaves and is wide enough to fit into my oven). Allow the loaves to rise for about an hour and a half until just about doubled in bulk. While the loaves are rising, preheat your oven to 450f, and if you have some way of getting steam in your oven, set that up as well (I just use a really old saute pan placed in the bottom of the oven, it's allowed to heat up with the oven and when it's time to bake, I pour a bit of boiling water into the bottom of the pan...using loads of caution, as steam burns are really not fun at all).
-When the loaves are ready to bake, spritz the tops with a little bit of water, sprinkle on a little kosher salt and score the loaves in whichever pattern you like.
Slide the sheet pans into the oven, or slide your loaves onto your baking stone, add your steam, if you are able to, and bake for about 20 minutes at 450f. After 20 minutes, lower the temp to 400f and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes. The loaves are ready when they are a lovely brown and feel lighter than they look.
-Take from the oven and cool on a rack.
-Slice and enjoy!
I am very happy with how this turned out. The crust was gorgeous brown, chewy and crisp and the crumb was nicely open with bits of chewy rice and wonderful herb flavor. Happy Bread Baking!
Thank you to Zorra for hosting this wonderful event! I hope to participate in many more in the future.