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Welcome to yet another recipe in my baking journey! Recently, I have become kind of a bread snob (and proud of it!). When I was little, I was brought up eating like the regular grocery white bread for sandwiches and it was very rare to have fresh bread, if anything I ate Salvadoran fresh tortillas. Anywho, I just didn’t know much about bread until I moved to Luxembourg (it’s a tiny European country located here, I didn’t know where it was either!) with my then French boyfriend who is now my husband, and let me tell you it was eye opening and I fell in love with bread.
Now even though my love of bread grew, I never thought I would actually feel comfortable enough or even skilled enough to make my own bread. Until now, I just kinda figured that I won’t know if I’m good at it until I try. So today we’re gonna try my first loaf of bread. My husband gave me the “Flour Water Salt Yeast” book and I’m testing a recipe from it - it's a great book if you want to understand more of the chemistry behind baking bread!
- 1,000g of White Flour
- 720g of Warm water (90F - 95F or 32C to 35C)
- 21g of Salt (preferably fine sea salt)
- 4g of Instant Dried Yeast
- In a large bowl or tub mix the flour and water together by hand. Cover and let it rest for the 20 to 30 mins.
- Sprinkle the salt and the yeast evenly over the dough. Wet your working hand and mix so the dough doesn’t stick. We’re now gonna fold, grab a quarter of it and gently stretch the section and fold it over the top to the other side of the dough. Repeat three times until salt and yeast are fully mixed in. Let the dough rest for a few minutes and fold for another 30 seconds or until you feel the dough tighten up. Cover the tub and let it rise for 10 mins, fold again. Let it rest 1 hour and a half again and fold once more.
- After 5 hours (after mixing) the dough should be doubled in size and should be ready to be divided into two.
- Flour your work surface and your hands, then sprinkle some flour around the edges of your dough and use your free hand to loosen it from the bottom. Make sure to gently ease the dough into your surface without pulling or tearing the dough.
- Flour both hands and gently form an even shape, dust the area well your will perform your cut. Cut the dough into two equal (not perfect) size pieces with a dough knife or a plastic dough scraper.
- Dust your 2 proofing baskets* and shape each piece of dough into a bowl by stretching a quarter of the ball over itself and repeating three more times. Place each ball seam side down in its proofing basket.
- Lightly flour the tops of your loaves and cover them with a kitchen towel, or a non perforated plastic bag. Plan to bake your loaves 1 hour and 15 mins after this step if your room temperature is at around 70F, it is warmer then most likely your loaves will be done proofing around the hour mark. To know if your dough is well proofed, use a floured index finger to make a dent at around ½” deep and if the dough springs back immediately it needs more time proofing. If it springs back slowly and incompletely, it's ready to bake!
- 45 mins prior to baking, preheat your oven to 475F and put your dutch ovens into the middle racks with their lids on. See notes if you only have one dutch oven*
- Let’s be very careful for this next step, grab your trusty oven mitts and take out the extremely hot dutch oven. Invert the proofed loaf into a dusted countertop (the top of the loaf will be the side that was facing down while rising - the seam side.
- Remove the lid from the dutch oven and carefully place the loaf inside, close the lid and put it back in the oven - make sure the temperature is still 475F.
- We’re going to bake it for 30 mins and then remove the lid for 20 mins. In case your oven runs hotter, set a timer for 15 mins when its baking uncovered to make sure your loaf doesn’t burn. Your loaf is ready once it is medium dark brown.
- Remove the dutch oven and slowly tilt to turn the loaf out - set it on a cooling rack or on its side to let air circulate. Let it rest and cool off for 20 mins before you dig in.
- If you don't have a proofing basket, a Linen or kitchen towel dusted with flour can be placed inside a bowl, this will avoid the dough from sticking.
- If you only have 1 Dutch oven, put the second loaf into the refrigerator about 20 minutes before baking the first loaf and bake the loaves sequentially, giving the Dutch oven a 5-minute reheat after removing the first loaf. Alternatively, you can keep the second loaf in the refrigerator overnight, in its proofing basket inside a non perforated plastic bag, and bake it early the next morning; if you do this, put the second loaf in the refrigerator immediately after shaping.
I got to say the results were really good, mostly if you eat fresh with a good butter. This loaf was gone the same day - so I totally recommend you give it a try. It has the perfect crust and the middle is so so soft and bouncy!