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    Artisanal Bread

    This is the “typical” artisanal  bread. It uses a few things other than the traditional flour, water, salt and yeast, but the small amount of yeast, the poolish and the long fermentation times yield a bread that should be an old-time treasure. This version is based on the Rustic Bread in “Crust and Crumb” by Peter Reinhart, an excellent bread book. This recipe is a good example of Reinhart’s work in blending traditional techniques with modern technology.

    This dough starts out as a one or two day poolish, undergoes a four-hour bulk fermentation and a further two-hour or more rise in a plastic bag and a bake at an initial 500 F / 260 C. These are all components of the modern artisanal bread idiom.

    Because there is so little yeast as compared with a more normal bread, the fermentation times must be much longer. With the long fermentation times, there is a real danger that the crust will dry out,
    which could lead to a flying crust, a large tunnel between the top crust and the main body of the bread. (See Troubleshooting for a discussion of flying crust) The bread is therefore given its final rise in a plastic bag, which limits the drying out. One other way to deal with a potential flying crust is to invert the loaves as you put them in the oven.

    Ingredients for Full Batch of Rustic Bread 


    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 10 285
    Water 10 285
    Dry Yeast 1/2 tsp 2


    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Poolish 20 570
    Warm Water 4 115
    Bread Flour 16 455
    Sugar 1 Tbsp 15 ml
    Buttermilk 4 115
    Olive oil 2 Tbsp 30 ml
    Salt 2 1/2 tsp 12 ml
    Dry Yeast 1/2 tsp 2


    Ingredients for Smaller Batch of Rustic Bread


    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Bread Flour 5 140
    Water 5 140
    Dry Yeast 1/4 tsp 1


    Ingred Ounces Grams
    Poolish 10 280
    Warm Water 2 55
    Bread Flour 8 230
    Sugar 1/2 Tbsp 7 ml
    Buttermilk 2 55
    Olive oil 1 Tbsp 15 ml
    Salt 1 1/4 tsp 6 ml
    Dry Yeast 1/4 tsp 1


    Method for Making Artisanal Rustic Bread 

    1. Make the poolish a day ahead and let it develop in the refrigerator overnight, or even for 2 days.
    2. I started with a cold poolish and let it warm up as I kneaded it and it rose in a warm kitchen.
    3. Mix all ingredients except salt together, knead the dough for a minute or two. Then set dough to rest for 20 minutes.
    4. Add salt and knead for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth. It will still be sticky.
    5. Set the dough to ferment, covered, for 4 hours. It may expand enough to almost double.
    6. You could do one or two folds during the fermentation. I didn’t, because I had other things to do.
    7. Spread a goodly amount of flour on the counter and pour the dough onto the flour. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
    8. Carefully and gently divide the dough into three equal pieces. Be careful not to degas the dough. Gently round the doughs, spray with oil and dust with flour. Cover with waxed paper or plastic film and let rise for 1 hour.
    9. Prepare sheets of parchment paper. Gently lift the three doughs, one at a time, and stretch them out until they are 10 or 12 inches / 25 or 30 cm long. Spray with oil, dust the tops and put each dough in a plastic bag. Tie the bag shut and let the doughs rise for at least 2 hours.
    10. Heat the oven to 500 F / 260 C. Place tiles or a baking stone in the oven. Put a pan in the bottom of the oven. Boil at least a cup of water.
    11. Carefully lift the doughs out of the plastic and place them on the stones or tiles. Using the long funnel, pour the water into the pan.
    l12. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 425 F / 220 C. Bake for 10 minutes more, then turn the loaves so they bake evenly.
    13. Bake another 15 minutes, then turn the oven off, open the door and let the breads bake 10 minutes more in the cooling oven. Place on racks to cool.

    Here We Go! 

    Click the thumbnail to see a larger version of the picture.
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    Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread ingredients. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread ingredients in the bowl. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread starting to mix. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread continuing to mix.
    Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread after 2 minutes mixing, ready for autolyse. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread ready for the salt. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread after 4 minutes kneading. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread after 4 hours fermenting.
    Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread, pouring dough onto the counter. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread, shaping the dough. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread, dough divided into three. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread, shaped loaves rising for an hour.
    Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread, risen, ready to stretch. Artisanal Artisan Rustic BRead, risen, stretched and on parchment paper. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread into the bag. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread, another one into a bag.
    Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread rising in the bags. Artisanal ARtisan Rustic Bread risen and ready to bake. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread into the oven. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread half baked.
    Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread baked and cooling. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread finished loaves. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread finished loaves. Artisanal Artisan Rustic Bread the crumb.

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