No-knead Peasant Loaf

2014-09-07 12.08.13

So, my first experiment with the No-knead rustic boule turned out pretty good and I was itching to make some more. I love food that is rustic and not sophisticated. I equate perfection to being unnatural. So, have been toying with mixing up the flours and a peasant loaf with a robust flavor made sense. And it also fell in place as I was going to be away for 4 days and be back just in time for Onam. And I wanted to bake something on Onam. The beauty of Jeff’s and Zoe’s slow ferment recipes from Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day are that the dough can be made and stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. So all that one needs to do is pull out the required quantity, shape the dough and bake. I wanted to test this out. So here’s how my experiment turned out:

Ingredients makes 2 medium boules and this recipe can be easily halved or doubled
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 T* Instant yeast
1 1/2 T Salt
5 1/2 C’s* maida / APF measured with the scoop and sweep method essentially not packed tight
1/2 C rye flour – I used ragi flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour – I used atta

Mix the flours, salt and yeast together and transfer into a food grade plastic, lidded container (not airtight). Pour in the water and mix with a wooden spoon till all of the flour is wet and you don’t have any dry patches in the dough. This is a no-knead recipe, so kneading isn’t required. You should be done with this step in about 5 minutes and what you’ll end up with is a dough that’s wet, gloppy and conforms to the shape of the container. Cover the container and let it rise for about 2 hours. My dough had flattened at the top and this is what it looked like.

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The dough is now ready to use but I would strongly recommend that you refrigerate the dough overnight. This is what the dough looked like when I got it out of the fridge after 5 days. It had a pleasantly sour note to it and it has acquired a darker hue thanks to the ragi flour.

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When you’re ready to start, prepare the surface where you’ll be shaping the dough by flouring it well. I used a wet silicon spatula to divide the dough into 2 portions and used just one. The dough is of a very sticky consistency, so use the spatula to pry it off the edges of the container and drop it onto the floured surface. After quickly tossing the left over dough into the fridge, it’s time to shape the dough into a boule. With well floured hands, hold the dough in one hand and gently stretch the sides of the dough towards the bottom, with the other hand. Now, rotate the dough by a quarter and stretch the surface towards the bottom again. Repeat this till the dough has a smooth taut surface. I keep flouring my hands to ensure that the dough doesn’t stick. This step shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. Here’s a link to a video that you might find helpful.

Rest the shaped dough on a parchment lined baking sheet for 40 minutes. I always dust the parchment paper with semolina as it helps the bread come off easily after the baking process. The authors of this recipe, don’t ask for the dough to be covered and again, as was the case with the Rustic Boule, I didn’t notice much of rise, but it rose beautifully in the oven. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 250C. I played with steam again while baking – I just love the beautiful crust steam produces. For this, I keep a baking / broiling tray in the lowest rack while I pre-heat the oven. As soon as I start the baking process, I empty a cup of hot water onto the hot baking tray and shut the oven door. This creates steam that transfers heat into the dough quicker than dry oven air and keeps the surface of the dough moist and elastic – allowing the dough to stretch and expand.

Dust the top of the dough liberally with flour and score the surface. Here is a video that you might find helpful. Place the parchment lined, scored dough in the middle rack. Pour the hot water onto the hot baking tray at the bottom and shut the oven door. Turn down the temperature to 230C and bake about 30 minutes or till the crust has browned beautifully and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. After the first 15 minutes of baking, I pull the water tray out quickly, so that the bottom of the loaf gets done evenly. I also pull out the baking sheet / tray and turn it 180 degrees – as I’ve found my oven doesn’t heat uniformly.

Here’s what my boule looked like when I pulled it out of the oven.2014-09-07 12.08.36

Turned out really really well, once again, for such a simple recipe. 🙂

Cool and eat soon. You’ll find a delightful crust and a moist crumb that has a very light sour note – something that’s common with sourdough breads. So, when do I get to see your Peasant Loaf?

T = Tablespoon, C = Cup.

Recipe source Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day

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