Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Bread Baking Babes Bake in Pots!

Cast-Iron pots. Not just for chicken anymore!

This month Karen has challenged us to put away our pans and bake in a pot! Cast-iron or even terracotta cloches are perfect for this month's Shepherd's Bread, a recipe from Beth Hensperger's Bread for all Seasons.

The dough is lovely, and huge! I generally start dough out in my stand mixer but this one was soon too voluminous for the poor beastie. I baked it in my enamel-coated cast-iron 6.5 litre roaster and needed a little extra time to get the top browned and the interior cooked. (Hooray for instant-read thermometers!)

You could also break the loaf down into smaller loaves and shorten the time a bit, but it was fun making giant sandwiches with the big one.

The bread is sweet and soft with a crackly crust - and perfect for sandwiches! 

If you'd like to bake Shepherd's Bread with us this month and earn a Bread Baking Buddy badge, see Karen's post for all the details!

Beth. Hensperger, Bread for All Seasons, says the following about Shepherd's Bread:
"Traditionally baked in a cast-iron pan submerged in a small, ember-lined pit covered with dirt. It is easily adopted to conventional home ovens by baking it in a contemporary clay cloche, a cast iron Dutch oven with a tight fitting flanged lid, or on a pizza stone. This Basque bread is a relative of the simple Spanish and Greek peasant loaves of Europe. For a ww version, substitute an equal amount of ww grain for the 2 cups flour in the sponge and 1.1/2 cups ww for an equal amount in the dough, making a slightly denser finished loaf. Eat this bread the same day it is made."
Shepherd's Bread
{Bread for all seasons by Beth Hensperger}
Makes 1 large loaf
Recipe and notes provided by Karen of Bake My Day

Sponge (takes 2 hours)
2 tsp active dry yeast or 3/4 oz fresh yeast
2 cups tepid water (460 ml)
2 cups unbleached ap or bread flour (140 white+140 rye)
1/2 cup sugar (90 gr)

Dough (first rise 2-3 hours, second only 15 minutes!)
1 tsp active dry yeast or 1/4 oz fresh yeast
1 cup warm water
1 Tbs salt
1/2 cup olive oil
5.1/2 to 6 cups unbleached ap flour or bread flour (edit: used 770gr this time! )

1/4 cup unbleached ap flour or bread flour (didn't need it to knead, used some to flour dough/bowl)



1. Prepare the sponge: In a large bowl mix yeast plus 1 cup of the flour and the sugar using a large whisk. Add remaining cup of flour and beat hard until very smooth, 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temp until soft, spongy and pleasantly fermented, 2 hours.

2. Prepare the dough: Using a wooden spoon, beat down the sponge. Alternatively, beat down the sponge in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In a measuring cup, stir the yeast into the warm water to dissolve. Add the yeast, warm water, salt and olive oil to the sponge and beat well. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating vigorously until a soft dough is formed that just clears the sides of the bowl.

3. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead about 5 minutes until a smooth dough is formed. Will be firm yet springy and resilient. Adding only 1 tbs flour at a time to prevent sticking. Place the dough in a floured deep container, dust the top with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at cool room temp until tripled in bulk, 2.1/2 - 3 hours.

4. Shaping: Again turn out the dough on a clean surface. It will be slightly sticky from the long rise. Knead in about 1/4 cup more flour to make a firmer dough, about 1 minute. Shape into a tight round ball. Pull the ends tightly to the center of the loaf to form a smooth bottom and sides. Mist the surface with water. Using about 2 tbs of flour, heavily coat the top surface.
Using a serrated knife, slash the top surface decoratively, no more than 1/4 inch deep to allow steam to escape and to allow room for the dough to expand.



Cloche instructions:

Sprinkle the dish with flour and place the dough ball in the center of the dish. Move the dough around to cover the bottom and up the sides a bit with flour.
Cover with the cloche dome/bell  and let rest at room temp 15 minutes. Before placing in the oven, rinse the inside of the cloche bell with water, draining off excess drips.
Place back over the bread and place in the preheated 425F oven.
Bake 10 minutes. Lower thermostat to 400F and bake a further 25-35 minutes. Remove the bell after 30 minutes of baking to allow the loaf to brown thoroughly.

Remove and cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

If you'd like to use your bread baking stone or tiles; let rise a second time for 35 minutes then use same oven setting but don't lower the temp. and bake until the bread is golden brown, crisp and sounds hollow when tapped.

The Bread Baking Babes

This bread has been YeastSpotted!


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