A Rustic “Long Rise” Bread

by A.J. Coltrane

This bread came about as an attempt at a rustic bread that’s “longer- rise- without- having- to- wait- overnight”. It’s rooted in the Lahey-Bittman No Knead Bread, as well as Peter Reinhart’s Pain a l’Ancienne in his book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

Both the Lahey and Reinhart breads call for an overnight rise — Lahey’s rise happens on the counter, and Reinhart’s happens in the refrigerator. I wanted to try something similar, shooting for about 6 hours of rising time on the counter. Using Reinhart’s recipe as a jumping off point, here’s where I wound up:

Scaled to 1 cup flour Lahey/Bittman Reinhart This Loaf
Flour ap or bread bread bread
Water .44 cups .4-.5 cups, cold .5 cups, cold
Yeast .08 tsp .3 tsp .125 tsp
Salt .42 tsp .375 tsp .375 tsp

The table above assumes 1-1/3c water to 3c flour for the Lahey bread — the amount of water he uses in his book, “My Bread”. (I’m now using this as the “standard” amount of water for the Lahey/Bittman bread.)

I had started with 1/4 tsp salt — I didn’t want the salt getting in the way of the yeast too much. (It’s a small amount of yeast in these recipes.) I changed course and went with 3/8 tsp because salt helps with gluten structure — I was hoping for a rustic loaf with good volume and large interior holes. (Thank you Jeffrey Hamelman, whose book “Bread – A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes” needs its own “Recommended Cookbook” post.)

Very wet and very shaggy. By any other name, it's a "batter."

I think it’s an interesting point really:  When I think I want volume my first thought would normally be “don’t use too much salt, it’ll slow down the yeast and the rise won’t be as high”, when in reality I’m better served using a more “normal” amount of salt and being patient with the yeast — the end result should be a better product.

…back to the recipe — I used the Lahey/Bittman technique as a template:  I chose to go with a 4 hour rise, followed by folding the dough and letting it rest 15 minutes, then a final 2 hour rise in a very lightly oiled and floured bowl.

Enough flour to keep it from sticking when turned out? Nope.

For baking, the Lahey/Bittman recipe calls for a temperature of 450F in a dutch oven. Reinhart calls for 475F, on a baking stone that has been preheatead to 500F, for 20-25 minutes total. Reinhart also mists the oven with water to create steam. I chose to go with 450F using the dutch oven, 10 minutes covered and 15  minutes uncovered. The final temperature of the bread was 207F, almost right on the target of 205F.

As for the final result:

Out of the oven -- not very brown on the outside.

And:

I got holey bread, just not the intended result.

What happened: 

The bread tasted good and had a good crust. Neither was exceptional, though it worked great for sopping up marina sauce — the flavors of the sauce and bread married very well together.

The finished bread had a fairly light complexion:  It was a small loaf (1cup flour), so it didn’t get much uncovered cooking time.

The large irregular holes are a symtom of insufficient mixing or folding. As part of the postmortem I read (in Hamelman’s book) that high hydration doughs need to be folded more times than lower hydration doughs. This dough only got one fold. (Which worked fine for the Lahey bread, but in that case the enzymes had 20 hours to work on the gluten.) Also, the mixer had trouble with the tiny quantity of flour in the bowl, more dragging the dough around rather than kneading.

Next up, an eight hour process, folding every two hours.

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