Saturday White Forkish Bread


I’ve been drooling looking at all the crusty airy loaves on Artisan Bread forums and wondering when will I ever be able to get there. It’s been 8 months since I started baking and I must have baked over 100+ different loaves and most of them have made baking easy thanks to the butter / olive oil or the milk / eggs that have gone in. While the no-knead breads have built my confidence, I knew I was missing something. And, thanks to the Artisan Bread Bakers group on facebook, I learn’t a term – Forkish bread – essentially recipes from Ken Forkish. And I learn’t that his recipes need a pre-heated Dutch Oven. So, I invested in one and it landed home on a Friday. And as if the Universe was conspiring to help me bake one of Forkish’s breads I noticed one of his beginning recipes was a Saturday bread. This was a recipe that you start with a little early in the morning and have ready by lunch time. Was delightful. Here it is:

All purpose flour 500 gms
Water 360 gms
Salt 11 gms
Instant yeast 2 gms (1/2 tsp)

1) Autolyse: Mix the flour and the water in a large mixing bowl by hand till the flour is completed hydrated. Cover with cling wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. The dough will rise to 3 times its volume over 5 hours, so please factor that while you choose your bowl. Here’s a video from Ken to show you the process.

2) Mix: Keep a bowl of water close by (deep enough for you to dunk your palms into). The dough that we’re working on is sticky and wetting your hands periodically will help keep the dough from sticking to your palms. Sprinkle the yeast and the salt evenly on the surface of the dough. Wet you working hand and reach underneath the dough and grab about 30% of it. Gently stretch this and fold it over itself. Repeat till all of the salt and the yeast are completely covered with dough. To get the salt and the yeast fully interspersed, use your thumb and index finger like the blades of a pair of scissors and make 5 to 6 cuts across the entire mass of dough. Fold the dough over itself a few times. Repeat this, alternately cutting and folding till you think all the ingredients have been well mixed and you feel the dough tightening up. Ken Forkish says that you should target a dough temperature of 25°C to 26°C. I’ve never managed this as the dough temperature (even in Bangalore) hovers around 28-29°C. Cover with cling wrap and let the dough ferment or rise over approximately 5 hours.

3) Fold: This dough needs 2 gentle folds, ideally during the first 1 1/2 hours of its fermentation process. I do the first fold, 10 minutes after Step 2 and the second fold an hour later. A simple thumb rule is to fold the dough after it has relaxed and spread out across the container. Cover with cling wrap and leave for it to triple in volume (about 5 hours total). Here is a video from Ken Forkish that should make it easy for you. This is what my dough looked like when it had tripled in volume. 2014-10-03 14.09.03

4) Transfer: Moderately flour a work surface. Flour you hands and sprinkle some flour on the edges of  the container – this helps the dough ease itself out without sticking to the sides. Gently ease the dough from the container onto the floured work surface. This is what it looked like for me. 2014-10-06 11.18.45

5) Shape: The dough now needs to be shaped into a tight ball without letting out all the gas that has been built up in the dough. Liberally dust the container that you intend using with flour. Ideally this step is done in proofing baskets made from wicker, but I used a glass bowl lined with a flour dusted kitchen towel. Keep some flour handy as you’ll need to flour your hands constantly to avoid the dough sticking to the them. Using the same stretch and fold technique, pick up a third of the floured bottom, stretch and fold it over itself. Repeat this process, gently stretching and folding till you have a ball-like shape with a little tension on its surface. Now, gently flip this over and move to a clean and dry area of your work surface devoid of flour. Cup your hands around the back of the dough ball and pull it towards you for about 6 – 8 inches. Use your little fingers to push the dough ball forward – this step helps the dough ball grip the un-floured, work surface and tightens the dough surface creating tension. Give the dough ball a quarter turn and repeat till you’ve gone all the way around the dough ball. The dough surface doesn’t have to be taut but it needs some tension to hold onto its shape and the gases inside. This is what it looked like.
2014-10-06 11.21.45
The shaped dough now needs to be gently lifted and transferred to a proofing container. This is what it looked like.
2014-10-06 11.26.29
This video from Ken Forkish shows Steps 4 and 5 well. We’re using half the quantity that Ken has used so you don’t need to divide the dough like he does.

6) Proof: All you need to now do is lightly dust the surface of the loaf with some flour, cover it with a kitchen towel / cling wrap and leave it to proof (2nd rise) for approximately an hour. Here’s the master – Ken, showing you how to figure if your dough is proofed or not by the finger dent test.

7) Pre-heat: 15 minutes after you’ve started the proofing, place a cast-iron Dutch Oven into your oven and pre-heat for 45 minutes to 250°C.

8) Bake: Bake for 30 minutes at 245°C with the lid on followed by 15 – 20 minutes with the lid off at 225°C or till the loaf is a gorgeous medium dark brown. Ken Forkish doesn’t recommend dropping the temperature but my DO sits on the lowest rack in my home oven and hence, the bottom can get scorched – so I drop the temperature by 20°C when the lid is off. When this is done, transfer to a cooling rack and it rest for 30 minutes before slicing. Here’s yet another video in which Ken shows you how to do this step.

Here’s what my loaf looked like
And here’s a close look at the crumb

Learning: When you use time as an ingredient in baking and slow down the entire process – you’re more than amply rewarded. 🙂

Recipe from Ken Forkish – Flour, Water, Salt & Yeast

0 thoughts on “Saturday White Forkish Bread

  1. Tried this recipe today… Surprised by the outcome… Its indeed pure magic… Thank you so much for such foolproof detailed explanation of recipes… Hats off to you Sir

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *