Sunday, 19 September 2010

Bread under cover

I recently borrowed out Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery from the library, and have been steadily making my way through it to see what else I can learn about bread making. It's an excellent book, and I suspect I will be buying my own copy soon.

Amongst other things, she discusses the use of earthenware or heavy metal covers, such as large flowerpots or stockpots, to cover bread while it cooks in the oven. I have read about this technique before, but I finally decided to give it a go - especially when she wisely remarked that a large Pyrex mixing bowl would do the job.

Basically, you make up your bread dough (I did two batches - unbleached white with poppy seeds, and 40/60 rye - both "kneaded" by stretching and slapping the dough in a very satisfying anger-dissipating manner, a la Richard Bertinet), let it prove twice with a bit of slapping and stretching in between to knock back the dough, and then leave it on a greased baking tray.

Heat up a pizza stone in a very hot oven (at least 230˚C) for half an hour or so.

Transfer the loaf to the stone and slash it. Cover it with the bowl. Cook for 30 minutes, remove the bowl, and give it another 25 or so minutes at about 190-200˚C.

The end result is a really good crust but quite a thin one - one of the problems I have had with bread in the past is an overly thick crust, because the outside cooked and dried out too much before the inside could expand and cook properly.

Poppy seeds

40/60 rye
Best bread yet! Until I win the lottery and can buy a steam oven, that is.

Next time I will try it with my sourdough starter. I can't wait!

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