Make this bread!  Even if you’re yeast-0-phobic,  even if you think you can’t  bake a bread to save your own life, …PLEASE  make this bread.  I’ll hold your hand throughout, and toast your success at the end!

(from Hamelman’s Bread)

For the poolish
1 lb bread flour (3 + 5/8 cup)
1 lb water (2 cups)
1/4  tsp instant dry yeast

For the dough:
all the poolish made the previous day (about 2 lb)
6.1 oz water (3/4 cup)
1 lb bread flour (3 + 5/8 cup)
0.6 oz salt (1 Tbs)
0.17 oz yeast (1 + 1/2 tsp)

Make the poolish the day before: add water to a bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top, add the flour and mix until smooth with a large spoon.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours (ideal temperature: 70 F).

This is what the poolish will look like the next day….

Prepare the dough:  add the flour, water and fermented poolish to the bowl of a Kitchen Aid-type mixer.   Don’t add the yeast or the salt yet.  Mix on first speed (or by hand) until it all comes together in a shaggy-looking mass.  Cover the bowl and let this mixture rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add the salt and the yeast over the dough, turn the mixer to the second speed and mix for 2 minutes.  Ideally, the temperature of the dough should reach about 76 F.  If kneading by hand, then work the dough until it’s smooth, about 6 minutes.

Cover the bowl and let it rest for 25 minutes.  Give a quick couple of folds to the dough (as shown here), let it rest 25 more minutes.   Fold the dough a couple of times again, and let it rest 20-25 minutes more, undisturbed.

Gently divide the dough into two pieces, trying not to deflate it too much, and place them over lightly floured kitchen towels. Cover,  and let them stay for 20 to 25 minutes at room temperature, for a final quick proofing.  No need to shape the loaves in any particular way.

Invert the dough over parchment paper, so that the floured side is now up.  Slash the bread quickly with a single stroke of a razor blade or sharp knife.

Bake the loaves in a 460F oven, with steam (add ice cubes to a baking pan placed at the bottom of the oven, or use any method of your choice to add steam in the initial baking time).  The bread will be ready in about 35 minutes.   Let them cool completely on a rack before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  My expectations were not too high for this bread when I first made it:  no wild yeast, no involved kneading and shaping.  When the loaves were ready to go into the oven, they seemed too flat, with a tendency to spread.   However,  they had  nice oven bounce, and the simple slash perfectly coached them into the final shape.   Each loaf was light as a feather, with a nice crumb and subtle sour flavor, thanks to the poolish.

Even though this recipe comes from Hamelmn’s book,  I did not make it as part of the Mellow Baker’s Challenge.  I had to take  a step back and turn into an avid observer of the group instead of a participant.  But make sure you jump over there to see what they are baking,  some great breads for the month of August, including baguettes…  😉

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yestspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: A Souffle to Remember…  Julia Child

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