This is my third time making Preston Yancey’s white bread recipe from his latest book, Out of the House of Bread. Over the course of the book, you follow various practices related to spiritual disciplines and make the same white bread nine times.
I’ve been documenting my thoughts on my experiences baking this bread for a later post, as well as what I’ve learned through the process of baking the same bread nine times.
First, a disclaimer: I know Out of the House of Bread isn’t a baking book. It’s a spiritual practices book, which is why I’ve included it in the baking and theology section of my Bread Library. I hope nobody takes this as a criticism of the book or of the author. There is a lot to like about this recipe, and as a result I’m adding some of my own knowledge formed from years of baking bread in an effort to make it my own. I hope he would not have a problem with this.
For now, with two attempts under my belt, I thought I would try and correct some of the issues I’ve had making it, while retaining the things I like about the recipe.
Issue #1. Tight Crumb. This is the crumb:
Then, I remembered something that hadn’t occurred to me before. Preston is baking in Texas, and I am baking in Virginia. I remember when we lived in Austin requiring less water than I do now to create the same dough conditions. So perhaps that is why his recipe doesn’t use much water. This is easy enough to correct.
Finally, I feel compelled to once again swear that I do know how to read. There is something about this recipe that makes my brain not want to follow it. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s on a kindle, rather than a printed book. There is no excuse for the fact that over the past three baking sessions, not one time have I faithfully followed his recipe as written. Usually I discover that I’ve done something wrong as I’m glancing over the recipe one last time, mentally checking off all the steps. Then I realize, “D’oh! The couches go in the refrigerator!” or, “D’oh! the water was supposed to be warm, not hot!” It’s frustrating.
|before realizing I was supposed to divide the dough and put it into couches in the refrigerator|
In case all the modifications have you confused, here is my recipe (to see the original, go here):
You will need:
1265g or 8 cups all-purpose flour
800g or 3 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey (yeah, I added more honey too)
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon oil
1. Pour your flour and about 720g of warm water into a very large bowl. Mix with your hand to combine. Don’t worry if the dough is very dry. Let the dough sit covered for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, mix together the other 80g of warm water with the sugar, honey and yeast. Let sit for 15 minutes.
3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, along with your salt and oil. Gently knead until it comes together in a ball of dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 4-5 hours, until doubled in size.
4. Place your dough in the refrigerator for 1.5 hours. Realize you were supposed to divide it into the couches before you refrigerated it.
5. Prepare two couches thusly.
6. Divide your dough.
Gently shape your doughs into boules, tucking the edges under the bread to form a smooth top of your dough. Pinch the edges together to form a seam, then place your dough seam-side up into your couche. Put it back in the refrigerator.
7. Place a dutch oven inside your oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. When the dough is ready, turn it out into your dutch oven, then use a razor blade to make a series of deep cuts on the surface of your dough.
I have found it must easier to score your loaf using a razor blade when it’s already inside the screaming hot dutch oven. This is because it cuts across the gluten strands much more easily than a serrated knife, which requires some momentum and a pulling motion straight across your loaf which is difficult and dangerous to perform under these conditions.
8. Put the lid of the dutch oven back on, and bake your loaf for 15 minutes at 500, 15 minutes at 450, remove the lid, and bake for the last 15 minutes uncovered.
9. Remove your loaf and let it rest for at least an hour before cutting into it.