Simple. Calm. Relaxing.
White bread. 4 ingredients can bring you to new levels of meditation within the kitchen. No bigas (not that they're hard), no fancy ingredients (not that those are bad), no sourdough growth (not bad either). Just you, the quiet of the oven pre-heating, and some flour.
Simple. Calm. Relaxing.
Richard Bertinet is one of my favorite bread baking authors. One of his first books, Dough, slowly introduces the would be artisan baker to the world of bread by showing how several different breads can be made with the same dough. My intent is to introduce you to the same. I want to illustrate to you the wonders of the bread baking world as brought to you by Mr. Bertinet. His simplistic approach yields amazing results. I also have to warn you that you will enter into a zen like state when making these various breads. They are amazingly easy and the results are professional.
We will begin our White Bread series with the basic white bread formula. Most of the recipes that are created use only this basic mix. Nothing more; nothing less. Simple.
Please enjoy the beginnings of an experience that will hold you in disbelief. You will wonder what I have mixed in and didn't tell you. You will shake your head, you will be in denial, YOU WILL...read on and see what you are capable of.
White Bread Dough (from Dough - Simple Contemporary Bread by Richard Bertinet)
|1/3 ounce||Fresh yeast (preferably) or 1/4 ounce envelope active dry yeast (1 1/2 tsp)|
|18 ounces||White bread flour (about 3 3/4 - 3 7/8 cups)|
|2 teaspoons||Fine grain salt|
|12 1/2 ounces||water (13 fl oz in a glass but weighing is preferred|
- Rub the yeast into the flour using your fingertips as if making a crumble
- Add the salt and water
- Hold the bowl with one hand and mix the ingredients around with the other (or use the rounded end of your scraper) for 2 - 3 minutes until the dough starts to form.
- With the rounded end of your scraper, turn the dough out onto the counter.
- DO NOT ADD ANY FLOUR TO THE COUNTER! The dough will be wet and sticky.
- Continue to knead the dough until it becomes soft and pliable. This will create an airier dough.
Lewis note: I use the dough hook on my mixer. I know this doesn't sound like the actions of a purist but it makes it easier to make a lot of batches at once. If you do wish to use your mixer Bertinet gives these instructions:
Using a mixer with a dough hook
- Put the flour into your mixer bowl and rub in the yeast. Switch the mixer onto the slowest speed and mix for another 6 - 7 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl, transfer to a lightly floured counter and mold into a ball.
Stay tuned for the creations that you can make with this basic dough. You will see that the end results are far from basic!