Dedicated to my younger daughter and my husband, who saw no reason for a holiday season pause in wonderful homemade bread. Indeed, my daughter is asking for sourdoughs.
1 cup bread flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 to 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups purified water (use filtered water)
During a break from preparing for the annual Chanukah family get together of making an apple crisp, which did not turn out well, latkes, which were just right, contributing to the deviled egg taste testing, and a salmon dish, which cannot go wrong when the fish is fresh, mixed together the bread dough. Either this process is becoming sufficiently routine to do while busy with other things, or I am somewhat distracted person, or both.
Mix the dry ingredients and add water. Mix well. Cover loosely with plastic for 12 to 18 hours. With this amount of flour, mixing takes about three or four minutes. Indeed, could mix a little more, but still easy to do with a busy day in the kitchen happening all around.
Let my dough sit for 15 1/2 hours. Seemed to have flattened out. Should research this a bit as completely ignorant about what dough should look like at point when the first rise should end.
Put in the refrigerator, but took out soon after to prepare for baking.Could probably last in fridge for five days. Or, can bake right away, though even an hour in the fridge will make the dough easier to handle.
When ready to bake, leave at least an hour and a half for preparation.
Prepare board with flour and lightly dust top and sides of dough, as well as hands. Stretch dough on board in as much of a rectangle as possible (think 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper) and then do a tri-partite envelope fold. After, fold in the other direction in half. Cover loosely with plastic. Let sit for 15 minutes.
At this point, let sit in a bowl, proofing basket (which has not moved, and might not move, from my wish list to my kitchen), or on a kitchen towel. Make sure any receptacle the dough is placed in or on is well floured, perhaps even spraying a layer of non-stick spray first. This time, used a wooden bowl with non-stick spray and rice flour, which supposedly is more absorbent than regular flour, but did not seem to make any perceptible difference.
Let sit, covered with a kitchen towel, for 60 to 90 minutes. Make sure to preheat oven to 500 degrees at least 30 minutes prior to placing dough in oven. Place baking stone and top of la cloche in oven. My dough seemed ready at 72 minutes. Had risen and just had that plump look.
Can dump dough onto heated baking stone; or dump onto well-floured baking peel, make a little design on top with a knife or razor, and slide onto baking stone. My dough dented a little when transferring from the peel to the baking stone. Cover with top of la cloche.
After 30 minutes, reduce heat to 450 and take off top of la cloche. Heat for another 15 minutes. Take beautiful bread out of the oven. Make sure kitchen is quiet. Listen next to bread for little crackling sounds. Leave out on rack or on top of stove (unheated, of course) for two hours before eating.
[Top of la cloche.]
[Baking peel with a bit of rice flour. Easy to imagine using that tool with a large wood-fired oven.]
All agree this is a really, really good bread. Crust excellent. The mix of two-thirds white whole wheat flour to one third bread flour tastes more like a whole wheat than the mix with one-third regular whole wheat flour. All in all, though, a similar taste. Rose well in the oven also. Nice crumb. Should take a picture, but wondering if the first rise was overdone at over 15 hours (kitchen was somewhat warm) and whether crumb could have been a little airier - or whether with a majority whole wheat dough, this is maximum lightness possible.
[Notice the lovely design on top created by the one-motion slice into the dough.]
One can see that probably a bit too generous there with dusting the dough with flour as it appears rather thick on top of the crust. Absolutely no matter; tastes wonderful and adds to the character of the appearance.
Will have to start bread number nine at once as half this bread disappearing quickly.