The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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mrpeabody's picture


Howdy all,

I'm a new member and I posted this a few days ago on the blog section. I was hoping for any feedback on my method (I'm always looking for ways to simplify it/improve it). Anyways, I thought that I'd repost here in Forum as it seems to get more traffic.

Mr. Peabody

On Feb 1st, I posted:

I've been lurking around this website for about a week and decided to join in. I'm an occasional bread baker who would like to improve my loaves. I got into it because my sons have nut/sesame seed allergies. This meant my wife and I could not trust a normal bakery for good rustic bread because there is no way to be assured that the bread didn't get cross-contaminated with sesame seeds or nut products. Still, my wife and I still really love the occasional crusty loaf, so I started to make some bread (I average baking about twice a month).

We are really busy because we have triplet boys (collective age of 27 years old, look at my white hairs!), so I've had to tweak my protocol for baking bread to be as casual and flexible as possible. So, I thought that I'd submit to all of you what I do for feedback, suggestions, comments, etc.

I do love the taste of bread done with a preferment (a biga) and a slow rise, but with our busy schedule, I needed a way to do this with great flexibility. So...

I mix/knead a bread dough (I use the autolyse technique too) using instant yeast, bread flour, salt, and COLD water in a Kitchenaide mixer. I then put it in a lightly oiled stainless steel mixing bowl, cover with plastic and stick it into the refrigerator for a slow, cold first rise (usually about 18-24 hrs).

The next day, I take it out of the refrigerator, fold the dough (which when cold is somewhat stiff), put the dough into a new lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and then put the whole thing into a weakly warmed oven (Turned on oven for about 1 min, turn it off and then leave the light on -- my oven gets to around 90 F) and wait for about 1-1/2 hr to 2 hrs.

By then, the dough is slowly warmed to around room temperature (maybe slightly warmer) and undergoes a 2nd rise. I then shape my loaves and let proof. After proofing, I do the normal stuff -- slash, wet, bake.

The bread is pretty good (my wife loves it). I bet if I folded it more often it would rise higher in the oven, but as a trade off in my actual hands-on time, it works for me. It has a faintly sour taste (which I happen to like) and the crumb is somewhat irregular but not extremely open like some of the photos I've seen on this website (though my hydration level may help to explain that, I've been hovering around 65-68% for hydration level)

So, what do you think?

Mr. Peabody

JohnnyX's picture

Have you read the Bread Bakers Apprentice by Peter Reinhart? Your tehnique sounds similar to his Pain a l'Ancienne recipe. He utilizes a cold fermentain like you. I found the recipe to be quite imformative, and the results are delicious. Maybe your library might have a copy. =)

mrpeabody's picture

No, I haven't looked at any books including the Bread Bakers Apprentice (though the library would be a good start). I've cobbled together a bread recipe and methodology based on a couple of magazine article (Cooks Illustrated) and a few internet searches. I've been baking bread off and on for about a year due to the food allergy issues that I have with my boys.

I've just recently stumbled upon this website and enjoyed reading some of the ongoing discussion.

Mr. Peabody
P.S. Because my wife is also lactose-intolerant, she had been unable to eat pizza with cheese (Tomato pie just didn't do it for her, she likes it with cheese). I've recently discovered that for some odd reason Kraft Preshredded Mozzarella Cheese has no lactose. I made her a pizza the other day that she just loved.