(Graciously sent to me by Baking Circle Member, "Wingboy")

Tom (Wingboy) attended one of Peter Reinhart's classes and had a five-minute conversation with him about his frustrating attempts to attain those beautiful big holes in his artisan breads. You can see from the photo what five minutes with Chef Reinhart can achieve! I've found that sometimes 5 minutes of instruction makes all the difference. I have personally learned so much from Peter Reinhart's class and my bread's improved.

In his own words:
"I have *finally* begun to bake the kind of bread I knew I was capable of baking! (he said modestly). After attending Peter's American Pie class in Portland and asking questions, I realized that I had *possibly* been over working my dough. I've gone through a lot (and I do mean a lot) of flour to get to this point - and it's so simple!

"Reinhart said that gluten formation occurs once flour is hydrated - kneaded or not. I'm just mushing stuff together enough to make sure it's mixed, and then leaving it alone. I'm also at 80% hydration which is a really sticky dough. I suppose you could streach and fold the dough, but I think you would need to add flour to make it work - and then the hydration would be lower. Right now I've got nice holes, dry and translucent - just what I was after.

"I'm not sure what the dogs in our neighborhood are going to do for chew-toys though!"

Some members of the Baking Circle have likened the process to one described in the cookbook "No Need To Knead" by Susanne Dunaway; however, Tom says it's more like "minimal kneading".

BC Member "Chard" tried this recipe, and here are her comments:
"I tried this bread a few days ago, that is I mixed it up, put in the fridge. I didn't get back to it for two days and baked it yesterday. I have to say it is very, very, good! I doubled the recipe. After those two days, I dumped it onto a Pam-sprayed counter and made four small batards. I usually mist the oven because I like a crisp, chewy crust, but I couldn't find my little spritzer, and so did not mist. I just let it rise for about 15 minutes and got a great ovenspring! For those who like a soft and chewy crust and don't, or can't knead, this is perfect. The texture is slightly chewy, flavor was rich and a little tangy, like any loaf of bread that has been retarded. Highly recommend! Thanks for your generosity in sharing this recipe."

Peter Reinhart himself added his commentary:
"Hi Folks: I'm so glad the technique is working for those of you brave enough to try it. The key is that, by not overmixing, the gluten development is less organized which is a good thing for creating large irregular holes (though I think it's a good idea to go back to the dough after the short first mixing cycle, the hydration phase, to finish it off with a few seconds of additional turns. If you keep your hands wet the dough won't stick to them). The older method of long mixing was, in my opinion, developed and taught because it insured a strong, stable product with lots of even holes. With our current understanding of the science behind it and the realization that large holes make better tasting bread (especially after long, slow fermentation), it's just a matter of applying this new information. Even the professional baking community is still learning and applying these new ideas. Interestingly, the old time pizza makers probably had a better intuition of this than many bread bakers, which probably helps explain why good pizza dough is often more satisfying than almost any kind of regular bread. Here's my rules of thumb (or is rule of thumbs?): use only as much yeast as necessary to get the job done; mix only as long as it takes to get the job done; ferment the dough slowly to allow maximum "sugar-break-out" from the starches (a result of enzyme action); then handle the dough as gently as possible to retain gas from the first fermentation as a foundation for the final rise. After that, it's just practice. Best regards to all--it was great seeing so many of you at the pizza classes!
I've made it! You can make it! It's really divine bread! So, after all that----how can you go wrong?

Preparation Time: Approximately 26 hours total - Maximum about 50 hours
Yields 2 boules or batards
Recipe was posted in the Baking Circle by "Wingboy"

Unbleached Bread Flour * - 13.5 ounces; 390 grams; 100%
Salt - 0.28 ounce; 8 grams; 2%
Instant yeast - 0.07 ounce; 2 grams; 0.5%
Water - 10.9 ounces; 315 grams; 80.7%

In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt and yeast together. Add the water and mix well, just enough to make sure the dry ingredients are thoroughly hydrated. The dough will be very wet and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours, maximum 48 hours.

When ready to bake, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and allow the dough to come to room temperature and rise to almost double its size, about 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Line a 15 x 12 baking sheet with a Sil-Pat or other oven-safe silicone baking mat. It's best not to use any semolina or cornmeal on it as it may accidently get into the dough itself. Use a plastic bowl scraper (this is best as it can conform closer to the sides of the bowl) and wet it and your hands under cold running water. Carefully and gently scrape the dough out of bowl onto the Sil-Pat, taking care to de-gas as little as possible. The dough will be very wet, puffy and will flatten out, but that's okay.

Use a bench knife to divide the dough blob into two pieces. Gently but persistently prod each piece into a batard or boule (batard is easiest). Move them far enough apart so they don't bake together into almost one piece, in which case the innermost part of the bread will not be done. Bake at 500 degrees F. for 14 minutes or until the internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer registers 205 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the loaves to a rack to cool at least 1 hour before serving. Slice and marvel at all those wonderful holes!!!

* Use the best unbleached bread flour you can find---one with a higher than normal protein level, such as King Arthur's Unbleached Bread Flour, available now in many supermarkets. If not, get it from their Baker's Catalogue.

For help from the Baking Circle, click here. The name of the thread you want to read "Bread with Holes - finally!". You will see Wingboy there, and me of course.

{Back to the Bread Box}

Copyright 2004 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved