Baking Artisan Bread at Home: An Introduction
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Makes 2 loaves of a Country Bread made with natural yeast leavening
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
For the starter:
For the dough
  • Starter (ie, Levain) from above, 200 grams (about 1 cup)
  • White bread flour, 900 grams (King Arthur brand recommended) (about 7.5 cups)
  • White whole wheat flour, 100 grams (King Arthur brand recommended) (about 1 cup)
  • Filtered water, 750 grams (80 degrees) (3⅓ cups)
  • Fine sea salt, 20 grams (5 teaspoons)
Instructions
To make the starter, see links above under ingredients
  1. A sign that your starter/levain is activated is when you drop a spoonful of it in a bowl of water and it flouts (after it has risen, which for me is 6 to 8 hours after a twice-daily feeding or up to 16 hours after a once daily feeding)
To make the dough (Dough Day)
  1. In a large bowl or food grade bucket/tub (6 gallon capacity), add 700 grams (3 cups) of the water and then add 200 to 250 grams of levain (less if it's summer and more it it's winter) and stir to combine
  2. Add 900 grams of the bread flour and 100 grams of the whole wheat flour
  3. Mix well so that there are no bits of flour remaining, then cover and let the bucket rest in a warm spot for about 40 minutes at a comfortable room temperature (do not add the salt at this stage)
  4. After 35-40 minutes have passed, add the salt, and the remaining 50 grams of water and mix again to incorporate
  5. Instead of kneading, this dough is "folded"
  6. Do a series of folds instead of kneading the dough since this is a very wet dough. To fold, dip your hands in a bowl of water (to prevent sticking) and gently grab a section of dough from underneath, stretch it out until you feel resistance, and fold it over the top. Turn the bowl/bucket a quarter of the way around and repeat the fold and then turn the bowl again and repeat (for a total of 3 folds). Repeat these 3 folds every half hour for about 3 hours.
  7. You will know the dough is ready if it passes the finger dent test (this is a bit trickier with a dough that is this wet) and has risen about 20 to 30% in volume
  8. Remove the dough from the bucket, divide it into 2 equal pieces and shape the pieces into 2 rounds
  9. Place them seam side down in bread proofing baskets and refrigerate overnight covered in plastic (if you want to score the loaves, place the loaves seam side up in the baskets or on a tray instead of what's shown in the video link and make sure you score them just before baking).
Bake Day
  1. When ready to bake, gently invert the dough onto parchment paper. Let the dough fall naturally out of the basket - do not tap or force it. Gravity will help here.
  2. Note: If the seams were placed down in the basket, now facing up, there is no need to score the bread
  3. You can bake these straight from the refrigerator; no need to warm the dough up (it improves oven spring)
  4. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees for about 30 minutes with the dutch oven (9.5 inch round or 11 inch oval) or a Lodge combo cooker set on top of your baking stone in the middle/lower rack (not the very bottom; this can cause the bottom of bread to burn).
  5. After the oven has preheated, using oven mitts, very carefully transfer the dough (can use parchment paper if it helps) into the dutch oven or on the bottom of the combo cooker (be careful here!)
  6. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
  7. Cover tightly with the lid, and let the bread steam this way for about 20 minutes; then uncover and continue to bake for another 20 to 25 minutes or until the bread has developed a nice brown color.
  8. To bake a second loaf, reheat the oven at 500 degrees for another 10 minutes, and then repeat steps 5 to 7.
Recipe by Feeling Foodish at http://feelingfoodish.com/baking-bread-basics/