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
This is from Nichole, of Mad DoughThe 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.
Check out that freshly baked challah in the background! She made it that morning before the class!
[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.]
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.