"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

INTRODUCING: My Amazing Baking Roommate & Mad Dough Bread Co

My roommate, Nichole, is very impressive for a number of reasons. One of which is her natural knack for bread baking. She comes home from work and is like a mad scientist in the kitchen, filling some Tupperware container with a combination of yeast, water and other secret ingredients and letting these containers rise in cupboards or set in our fridge. Then she'll be kneading, shaping and glazing breads which always come out looking beautiful and tasting wholesome, hearty and delicious.  She recently made homemade pizza on homemade pizza dough with homemade ricotta - on one Wednesday night! She's started Mad Dough Bread Co to bring her healthy, made-with-love, organic breads to the Bay.

She also shares her knowledge so now anyone can Bake Fresh Artisan Breads with Nichole of Mad Dough Bread Co. I had the opportunity to experience one of her classes and I had no idea bread was such a science! The photo above is of her starters which she prepped for the class the evening before. We were making baguettes. 
Here is Nichole explaining the starters to us:
Then we mixed the starter with flour, salt, yeast
The Bread I chose was a variation of Peter Reinhart's French Bread using Guisto's whole wheat and white bread flours. Wheat flours makes the bread slightly denser, but adds a ton of fiber, protein and flavor lost in the white flour sifting process.

This is a multi-day bread (most are) but worth the effort in the complex taste and structure that results from letting the flour, water, salt and yeast ferment overnight. That being said, I had to prepare the dough ahead of time, but led the group in mixing the dough themselves, demonstrating the texture, temperature and technique that are the key to making any kind of bread.

Makes 2 large loaves, 4 small loaves, or many rolls.

2.5 cups (12 oz / 340 g) whole wheat bread flour
2.5-3 cups (12 oz / 340 g) unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons (0.5 oz / 14 g) salt, or 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
2-1/4 teaspoons (0.25 oz / 7 g) instant yeast
2 cups (18 oz / 454 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35°C)

1 to 4 days ahead of time:

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for 1 minute, until well blended and smooth. If the spoon gets too doughy, dip it in a bowl of warm water. The dough should form a soft, coarse shaggy ball. Let it rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured work surface, adjusting with flour or water as needed. The dough should be as soft as it cane be without being sticky.

Check out that freshly baked challah in the background! She made it that morning before the class!
Transfer it to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then immediately refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days.

[If the dough feels too wet and sticky, do not add more flour; instead, stretch and fold it one or more times at 10-minute intervals before putting it in the refrigerator. (If you plan to bake the dough in batches over different days, you can portion the dough and place it into two or more oiled bowls at this stage.]

Baking Day:

Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake. Gently transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, taking care not to degas. For baguettes and batards, divide the cold dough into 10-ounce (283 g) pieces; for 1 pound boules, divide the dough into 19-ounce (53 g) pieces; and for freestanding loaves, use whatever size you prefer.

Form the dough into batards and/or baguettes (stretch from the ends) or boules (gently tuck underneath to form a ball) and place on parchment. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and proof at room temperature until increased to 1-1/2 times its original size (60-120 minutes).

About 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 550°F (288°C) or as high as it will go, and place an empty metal baking dish or sheet on the bottom shelf (don't use glass! - It will shatter).

Just prior to baking, score the dough 1/2 inch deep with a serrated knife or razor. Transfer the dough to the oven, pour 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan, then lower the oven temperature to 450°F (232°C).

Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 15 to 25 minutes, until the crust is a rich golden brown, the loaves sound hollow when thumped, and the internal temperature is about 200°F (93°C) in the center. For a crisper crust, turn off the oven and leave the bread in for another 5 minutes before removing.

Letting the dough balls rise...
Making them into baguette shapes
Don't forget to make little cut marks up top

Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing or serving.


By simply varying the method so that the shaped loaves undergo cold fermentation, rather than the freshly mixed bulk dough, you can create a spectacular loaf with a distinctive blistered crust. After the dough is mixed and placed in a clean, oiled bowl, let it rise at room temperature for about 90 minutes, until doubled in size. Divide and shape as described above, mist with spray oil, then cover the shaped dough loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight (or up to 4 days), away from anything that might fall on it or restrict it from growing.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking and place on parchment paper. It should have grown to at least 1-1/2 times its original size. While the oven is heating, remove the plastic wrap and let the dough sit uncovered for 10 minutes. Score the dough while it's still cold, then bake as described above.

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