Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dutch Oven Boule!

Bread!, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
For some crazy reason I've been wanting to bake bread...and for the life of me I can't figure out why. Is it the challenge of its complexity? Its various variables and all that can go wrong? Why would I attempt such an arduous task without the aid of a Kitchen Aid and a dough hook?
I picked up Ruhlmans Ratio a few weeks ago and it's pretty much been with me every day. Bread is the first chapter and he makes it sound so easy once you've figured out the ratio. 5 parts flour to 3 parts water, add a little yeast and salt and you've turned glue into bliss.
The key to the kneading is clear. Tear off a small hunk of dough and if you can stretch a small square to translucency you're done. Yeah...well a half hour of kneading later it still hadn't gotten to that point and I just let it go and put it in the pot anyway.
I left it to rise in the dutch oven on the stovetop for the rest of the afternoon as I went out about my business and came back to plump mound of dough in my pot. Perhaps a little too much? I guess the pilot gives it enough heat to double in half that time. It had more than doubled. Rulhman says that if it rises too much it'll be harder to rise the second time. First rise can also happen in the refrigerator if you want to leave it overnight. I punched it down rounded it out again, slashed an X and spread some olive oil over it and topped it with a little salt and let it rise for another hour and a half.
It baked in the dutch oven for 30 with the lid then 30 without. I checked it after 15 minutes and it looked like the dough around the slashes seemed a tad raw, so I left it in until the top was golden and crispy looking. When I dumped it out of the pot the bottom was burnt though 10 minutes too long perhaps? Once it cooled down some I sliced off a hunk and tore into it. The top was a little too salty and the bread was a little more dense than I would have liked but it tasted really good.
Was it worth it? Yeah it was. I made bread! That's no easy feat. Some lessons learned. I made some mistakes but it ended up tasting pretty good for a first go. I want to explore the variables and see if I can get this right. The density of this boule made up a pretty good grilled cheese sandwich yesterday. Last night I buttered some up to have with my butternut squash soup.
I got a good upper body workout too.

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