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Baking Bread

The title sounded quite like "Breaking Bad."

Baking bread is extremely rewarding, especially for someone who, like me, is poor. With cheap ingredients and a bit of patience/time/planning, you get the incredible combination of crispy outside and soft inside. I have started baking my first loaf of bread since last October (2017) and enjoyed the moment when the bread comes out of the oven. So satisfying. In the past, I have been mostly following a simple recipe (using commercial yeast) and now it seems to be the time to venture into more complex implementations.

I follow Ken Forkish's book "Flour Water Salt Yeast" (FWSY). It is an awesome book, especially for anyone with an engineering mind. Ken worked for IBM before he becomes a baker. The book is extremely easy to follow. The best part, in comparison to other cooking books, is recommended schedules. Start mixing flour and water at 9:30 AM and then fold at 10:30 AM, etc, etc, and you will get the bread at 5 PM for dinner. Simply following the schedule ensures sufficient time for the yeast to develop and the dough to rise. His insistence on using weight rather than volumes really reflects the engineering mindset of being precise.

This post is meant as a distillation of my own bread baking experience. It is not meant to be informative. If you are interested, buy Ken's book.

Equipment

工欲善其事,必先利其器

  • Cambro Round 12-qt container
  • Dutch Oven (I am using Staub)
  • Kitchen Scale
  • Mitt
  • Oven Thermometer
  • Proofing Baskets (I am using salad bowls...)

Ingredients

  • Flour (King Arthur)
  • Water (tap water)
  • Salt (prefer sea salt)
  • Yeast (SAF instant yeast)

Schedule

Before you begin, you might want to checkout Ken's video.

Simple Saturday White Bread

  • 9:30, mix flour (total 1000g, white flour or some percentage of whole wheat)
  • 9:30, add 720g water (or slightly more if using whole wheat) and autolyse
  • 9:50, add 4g yeast and 21g salt, use pincer method
  • 10:10, fold the dough
  • 10:30, fold the dough for the second time
  • 3:00, shape the dough into two halves, then let them proof
  • 3:45, pre-heat the oven (with Dutch oven inside) to 450F
  • 4:15, [finger dent test] and move the dough into the Dutch oven (with lid), bake
  • 4:45, remove Dutch oven lid
  • 5:00, check the bread and move out if ready

Resources

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