Monday, March 16, 2009

The Young and The Yeastless

It's that time again. The Bread Baking Babes have taken on a new challenge and this one was a lot of fun. I have to admit that sometimes I look at our new recipes and gulp a bit when I realize it's going to mean a shopping scavenger hunt to find a weird ingredient (usually flour), or a couple of weeks of prep time prior to popping the loaf into the oven.

This month I didn't gulp at all. The recipe that Sara of I Like To Cook, our host kitchen of the month, gave us is really quite easy and calls for water, bread flour, and salt. Did you read yeast? I didn't type yeast. As leaven for this loaf you use 1/4 cup of leftover dough, called a "chef." It's a 2 day loaf, but worth the wait. For me it produced dainty loaves with a sturdy crust and lovely texture inside. And it's so much fun to make, I can't wait to try it again.

Check out all the other Babes (see the sidebar) and see what lovely loaves they've concocted, then try it yourself. If you make it and post it by the 29th, send a link to Sarah and she'll send you back a handsome Bread Baking Buddy badge to proudly display on your site.

Pane Francese
- adapted from King Arthur Flour, inspired by Joe Ortiz and The Village Baker

Early on the first day:

Creating the Levain
chef (1/4 cup leftover dough, or 1/4 cup sourdough starter, unfed)
1/4 cup warm, chlorine-free water
1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour (I used plain bread flour)

Let the chef soften in the warm water, then whisk out any lumps. Mix in the flour until yo8u've formed a stiff dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead it for 5 to 8 minutes. The chef (now called a levain) should be moist but firm. Place the levain in a bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place till doubled. This will take 5 to 6 hours.

Sometime after lunch:

Second-Stage Levain
All of the levain (from above)
1/2 cup warm, chlorine-free water
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour

"Refresh" the levain by placing it in a medium-sized bowl, chopping it into small pieces, and adding the water and 1/2 cup of the flour, stirring till smooth. Add the remaining flour gradually to create a stiff dough. Knead the dough for several minutes, then return it to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise for 3 to 5 hours, till it doubles in size. Punch down the risen levain, and reserve 1/4 cup as your next chef. (Let the piece ferment at room temperature for 3 hours, then wrap it in plastic and store it in the fridge. It'll develop a hard crust; that's OK.)

In the evening:

all of the second-stage levain (from above)
3/4 cup warm, chlorine-free water
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Special Bread Flour

Chop the levain into small pieces, and mix them with the water, stirring till they begin to dissolve. Add the salt, then 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured or lightly greased work surface, and knead until the dough is smooth and satiny, adding only enough additional flour to keep the dough from sticking unbearably. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place for 8 to 10 hours (overnight).

The next morning:

Cut the dough into 2 pieces, and shape each piece into a round or oval. Transfer the loaves to a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, or to a floured banneton; cover with a heavily floured cloth, and allow them to rise for 2 to 3 hours, or until they're almost doubled in bulk.

Don't slash or glaze the loaves. Bake the bread in a preheated 450°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, with plenty of steam, or until they're a deep, golden brown. Yield: 2 loaves.


And now, the announcement you've all been waiting for.... the winner of the See's $25 gift certificate is.....(drumroll)...Elyse! Congratulations, Elyse! Please send me your full name and mailing address so we can get it right out to you.


LizNoVeggieGirl said...

FABULOUS new baking project from the BBB!!! I especially love it since I'm intimidated by baking with yeast, haha :-D

Congratulations to Elyse!!

Karen Baking Soda said...

Oh those look so pretty!! Nice smooth crust and such a delicate crumb! Wasn't this one fun?

breadchick said...

Oh Lynn, your loaves look so perfect. It was a fun bread to bake wasn't it?!

NKP said...

Can (wo)man live on bread and chocolate alone?
If it is this bread and these chocolates.. I am thinking yes!
I love your cute oval loaves, they are so perfect and delicious looking.
Congratulations to Elyse!

Engineer Baker said...

Mmm... bread and chocolate... That loaf looks absolutely fantastic - I can't wait to try this recipe out.

One Thrifty Mamma said...

Do you have a recipe for the first chef? I'd love to try this recipe but don't know quite what to use for that part of the ingredients since I don't have the leftover dough (yet!). Thanks!

Elyse said...

Yay!!! Thank you so much, Lynn!! This is truly a sweet treat indeed. I'm so excited. You know how much I love See's (or if you don't, I can tell you it's a no-holds-barred love)! I'll be sending you my address in just a second.

By the way, that bread sounds fabulous! And what a creative recipe. I love that you use a "chef" to make the actual bread. Cool technique, and it certainly looks yummy!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

So now we have a new friend from the internet, our own old "chef" ;)
They are small loaves but that really is the way the recipe works out. I can tell you that all the dough makes a nice normal size loaf. Beautiful Lynn. (No gulp on this but I wonder what Mary's got up her sleeve.)

Heather said...

mmmm. yum! i love freshly baked bread! looks delicious :)

Sara said...

Oh they look a lot like mine! Glad you enjoyed it.

Lien said...

Great loaves Lynn, They look real professional!

grace said...

perfect loaves, lynn! thanks for sharing this technique--it's a new one to me!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I'm always in awe (and jealous) of the beautiful bread food bloggers other than myself make. This looks delicious--I need to try some!

Elle said...

Another great bread for the BBB! Sorry I didn't get the See's candy, but I could just purchase some. Hmmmm.
Your loaves might be small, but they look great!

Aimée said...

Bread without yeast, Lynn? What's next? Water into wine? :)
It looks like it would be perfect toasted up with some homemade jam for breakfast.

The Blonde Duck said...

That looks really good!

Maria said...

Love fresh baked bread. Your loaf looks delish! Congrats to Elyse!

Katie Zeller said...

It look's so pretty.... And yummy...
I'm so jealous!