At 66, Bill Schuerman says he’s reached that point in life where he only does things if they’re fun. In his case, baking bread is at the top of that list.
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BASIC FRENCH “BOULE”
(The recipe makes a 1 ¾ pound round loaf)
Says Schuernman: “Bread baking is based on “formulas” rather than recipes. Most bakers recommend measuring major dry ingredients by weight rather than volume because measuring by volume is not precise.”
1 pound unbleached flour
¾ teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup room temperature water
In a Kitchen Aid or similar mixer mixing bowl blend dry ingredients together. Add water and with dough attachment and knead for approximately 10 minutes — or knead by hand for 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer dough to a grease/oiled bowl with volume large enough to hold double the amount of the dough ball. Roll dough in bowl to coat entire surface. Cover with plastic wrap and sit at room temp for 1 hour. Place bowl in refrigerator (to “retard” the action of the yeast) for 8 to 24 hours.
Remove bowl from refrigerator and allow to continue “fermentation” (first rise) until the dough has doubled in size — about 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Empty dough from bowel onto a flowered surface, gently de-gas and form into a rough round shape.
Cover with a floured tea towel and let “rest” for 15 minutes.
Place baking stone or unglazed tiles on oven rack in middle of oven. On lower oven rack place an iron skillet or baking pan. Heat oven to 475 degrees.
With finger tips, press round ball into a flat disc and shape into a “boule” (ball) shape by lifting the disc and continuously bringing the edges underneath and to the center — you want to form a ball with a tight skin formed by the stretching action of pulling the dough under and to the center.
Place the dough with the smooth side down in a colander lined with a floured tea towel. Cover and allow the dough to “proof” (second rise) for 1 hour (finger test — with wet or floured finger poke top of the dough, there should be a little spring but impression should somewhat remain).
Open oven, pull forward the rack holding skillet or pan and fill with a glass full of ice cubes to form steam. Quickly replace lower rack and close oven door.
Turn out risen dough, round side up, onto a well-floured wooden cutting board, peel, or back of a baking pan.
With a sharp serrated knife or razor slash the top of the bread with a large X, open oven and quickly slide bread onto baking stone or tiles. Close oven door. After 30 seconds crack open oven door and with spray bottle of water, spritz the oven wall about eight times to form a cloud of steam and quickly close door. Repeat 4 times — about every 2 minutes.
Turn oven down to 450 and bake for a total time of about 30 minutes or until cust turns a rich golden/reddish brown or until bread reaches internal temp of 200 degrees.
Cool for one hour before slicing.
Three bread-making tips from William Schuerman:
1. Slack dough: Experiment with what bakers call a “slack” dough—a dough with a high hydration percentage, 75—80 percent depending upon brand of flour, type of flour, dryness of the flour. A slack dough, formed into a ball will not keep its shape, it will tend to slowly spread out. During the “fermentation” (first proof) fold this type over a few times (every twenty minutes) or by grabbing underneath, lifting and stretching and folding back underneath itself. Slack doughs will result in a tender, chewy crumb with nice irregular holes throughout.
2. Retardation: After kneading, let sit at room temperature to begin the “fermentation” (first rise) then cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours. This slows down the fermentation and permits the development of the flavor of the natural sugars in the flour. Remove and allow dough to complete fermentation and/or return to room temperature.
3. Steam: The secret to excellent crust is steam. Commercial baking ovens inject steam automatically. To produce the same effect in a home oven add ice cubes to skillet or baking pan on the lowest rack setting or floor of the oven just before introducing the loaf to bake. Then during the first ten minutes of the bake cycle, periodically crack the oven door open and spritz the sides of the oven with water from a spray bottle to create a cloud of steam. The steam results in the caramelization of the bread’s crust and creates the rich colors of a fine baked loaf.
A FAVORITE RECIPE
* William Schuerman tells you how to make a basic French “Boule”
* How do you decide to build an oven in your back yard? William Schuerman tells his story at MyDaytonDailyNews.com
About Our Good Cooks
This weekly feature spotlights at-home or professional cooks throughout Southwest Ohio willing to share their favorite recipes, cooking tips and family traditions. If you know of someone we should feature, please send an e-mail to Meredith Moss: MMoss@coxohio.com Plesae include a daytime phone number.