Bread Heaven

Posted on Jan 18, 2012 in Hiroko's Blog

Last Sunday our friend Steve Popple invited me to his bread baking workshop. He took a baking course at King Arthur Flour. Since then, he has been immersed into it. He built a special kitchen with an additional oven, a counter top and a sink dedicated to baking bread in their roomy kitchen so that he does not disturb his wife’s territory. He has been practicing and perfecting no-kneading bread making. There are couple of techniques which Steve showed me and I want to share it with you. First one is how he treats dough without kneading. You need time for this technique but not your strenuous work. First Steve mixed flour and water in a bowl just briefly (you can see the photo – a kind of bad mixing). Leave the dough in the bowl and leave it 30 minutes (uncovered). Remove the dough from the bowl and deal it just briefly – twice folding (no kneading), that’s it. The dough is then transferred to a plastic box (with a fitting lid) and stored at temperature controlled, warm kitchen corner. After 30 minutes of resting Steve took the dough out again onto the wooden board and repeated the brief folding. Steve repeats this folding 5 times in 3 hours time stretch. At the end the dough acquires baby’s cheek or baby’s bottom like smooth, tender yet springy and silky texture – wonderful result.

The second technique is how to add hot steam in the oven at the beginning of baking. Many people try to spray water from a small spray bottle into the oven. I was one of them. Steve says this process only helps to reduce the temperature of the oven and small sprayed water in the oven does nothing. Steve is right. I did not get any specific result from spray bottle spraying, so I stopped that practice. This is how he came up with. He heat the cast iron skillet very hot while heating the baking stone in the oven. After adding the shaped dough on top of the baking stone, Steve quickly pour the water into the well heated cast iron skillet and shut the oven door immediately. This process instantly create high steam production inside the oven. Very smart idea!

Here are some of the bread which we/he baked. This is Chiabatta with nice airy holes on the cut surface. We enjoyed it with local cheese and home made jams. It was a bread heaven.