This bread takes about two days to make. The recipe seems long, but it’s just detailed. The steps are also very catered to my own schedule, so you should play around with the steps, making use of your refrigerator, to see what works for you.
Also, this recipe is basically a direct copy of a recipe in Josey Baker’s excellent book on making bread, and I implore you to buy it and read it.
Stuff you’ll need
- Store-bought yeast (I use dry active)
- Whole wheat flour
- Bread flour
- Rice flour
- A rising basket (you could probably use a bowl for this, but a rising basket is a good investment. This is a good one: http://amzn.to/2wRmAiU)
- Mixing bowls
- A tea towel (or the lining fabric for the rising basket above)
- A dutch oven with lid, or a pizza stone and an oven-safe pot/bowl
- I recommend also getting a bench scraper: http://amzn.to/2wS5tgB
Mixing the pre-ferment (7am, day 1)
In a bowl, mix together:
- ¼tsp store-bought yeast
- 120g cool water (15ºC)
- 105g whole wheat flour
Mix it all up, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 6–12 hours at room temperature. (I do this around 7am, ready to mix the dough at 7pm the same day.)
Mixing the dough (7pm)
After 6–12hrs, uncover the bowl and take a sniff—the mixture should smell pleasantly nutty, and should have developed some air bubbles.
Add to the bowl:
- 240g lukewarm water (28ºC, usually water left at room temperature for a few hours will suffice)
- 375g bread flour
- 12g fine sea salt (I use Kosher salt because I don’t have fine sea salt, no problems)
Mix it thoroughly (using your hands tends to work best), then let rest for between 30–60min, whatever is convenient.
“Kneading” the dough (7:30pm-9:30pm)
Fill a small bowl with lukewarm water, dip your hand in it, grab your mixed dough from one side, and pull it into the middle of the dough, like you’re folding it in half. Rotate the bowl and repeat this on another edge of the dough. Do this about ten times total, wetting your hand again whenever the dough starts to stick. You want to be firm but gentle with it.
After about ten folds, leave the dough to rest, covered, for 20–30min. Repeat this step 3 more times; the dough should be somewhat firm by the end.
The bulk rise (9:30pm–next day)
After the final fold, stick the dough in the fridge to rise overnight. You want it to grow to about 150% of its original size. In the fridge, this usually takes around 18hrs, but you can leave it in the fridge for up to ~2 days. At room temperature, results may vary (hence doing it at a controlled temperature, like the fridge).
After the dough has risen, it’s ready for shaping.
Shaping the dough (5pm day 2)
(Optional: take your dough out of the fridge a short while before preparing to shape it, so that it’s a little more comfortable to handle and not fridge-cold)
Lightly flour your countertop with bread flour. Make a fist and gently push down into the middle of your dough to release excess air, then pour your dough out onto the countertop.
Grab one edge of the dough and fold it into the center. Do this all around the edges of the dough, then flip the dough seam-side down and leave to rest for 10 minutes. (This step is called pre-shaping. We’re going to shape the dough twice, which will help ensure a magnificent rise in the oven!)
Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough before flipping it seam-side-up again. Grab the edge closest to you with both hands, lift the dough from the countertop, and let gravity stretch the dough a little, before lowering it back down and folding the edge towards the center. Do the same with the opposite edge, then turn the dough so that the left-and-right edges become the top-and-bottom edges. Repeat this step on these edges.
After you’ve done this a couple of times, flip the dough seam-side-down, then go around the dough, cupping it with your hands and tucking it in. Let rest for 10 minutes, while you prepare the rising basket.
Prepping the rising basket (5:30pm)
Sprinkle a handful of rice flour into the tea towel or fabric from your rising basket, forming a dough-sized layer of rice flour. (Rice flour prevents the dough from sticking, and it leaves a lovely layer of flour on the finished bread)
Line your rising basket with the fabric. Using your bench scraper pick up your dough and gently place it in the basket, seam-side-up.
If you want to bake your bread in the next 2–3hrs, leave it out at room temperature, covered with a tea towel. If you want to bake in the next 4–24hrs, stick it in the fridge.
Baking time! (8pm)
Preheat your oven with the dutch oven (or pizza stone and upturned oven-safe pot) inside for 45min at 475ºF.
Carefully upturn your dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Admire it! Take a sharp knife or a lame and quickly slash the dough across its center, at around a 45º angle, about ¼” deep.
Remove your dutch oven or pizza stone and upturned bowl from the oven. Using the parchment paper, carefully lower your dough into the dutch oven (or onto the pizza stone), and put on the lid (or put the bowl/pot on top of it). Slide the vessel back into the oven. Bake your dough, covered, for about 25 minutes.
After 25min, remove the dutch oven lid or the upturned bowl, and remove the parchment paper from beneath the dough. Bake the dough, uncovered, for 10–20 minutes more, until the crust has a deep brown color. (My oven seems to run a bit cool, so I bake for a full 25min more.) Once baked, remove the bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Let it cool completely—it’s still baking!