This Is How I Make Bread

My bread is incredible. It is better than your bread. Oh, you own a bakery?

Well, I may concede.

If you are baking at home, though, I am happy to go up against you. It is very good bread I make.

I, of course, start with bread flour. My preferred powder is King Arthur, but I will happily use Gold Medal. And my recipe is very much the same regardless of using sourdough starter or normal yeast.

Well, I might use more water in sourdough, but that’s okay.

There is no recipe because I don’t use a real recipe for my bread anymore. I have crossed the rubicon into percentages, which is how I make bread.

It provides freedom. The scale gives you knowledge!

Using grams to weigh my flour and water and salt and yeast gives me tight control over my dough. If it is a little wetter, I know it can handle a longer rise and may need a little more love.

I typically make a dough at about 60% hydration. Sometimes, I like to pump it up to 75. This has been good for sourdough. It is very rare that I will go higher.

I also stick to a single loaf at a time. I start with 500g bread flour. I add my yeast and salt. The salt is usually at 2%, which is 10g.

The 500g is 100%. The other ingredients are a percentage of your flour. 1% (5g) of yeast. Yeast can work in different ways, so maybe I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

It all gets mixed together and I’ll add the water. A “normal” loaf I do about 60%, which is 300g of water. You can also use ounces since it’s easy to use nice round ones.

Then, it rises! Here is where people get picky. It doesn’t always take two hours for bread to rise! But, sometimes it takes 3 hours! I prefer to let mine rise in the fridge overnight. I let it warm up a half hour and I’m ready to bake!

I make boules, which are the round breads. These rise in a banneton (a basket lined with flour).

Into the oven I put a dutch oven, lid on, and I heat things up for at least a half hour to 450F. I take the lid off the dutch oven and drop my loaf in straight from the banneton. Lid on and bake.

Half an hour later, I take the lid off so the bread can brown a bit.

When is it done? I use a thermometer for that. I look for 190F.

It all gets pulled out and the bread cools on the rack! And this is a very easy, nice bread.

If I am using sourdough, the math is a little trickier. But, luckily, my sourdough is always at a 1:1 ratio of flour to water. So, if I have 100g of starter, I know 50g is likely flour and 50g is likely water. And 100g is a great amount!

However, this means I use more water in the final dough – 75%. This is 375g of water, but take away 50g for the starter. It becomes 450g flour and 325g water. I use the same amount of salt.

And I always do an overnight rise for sourdoughs.

Other tips and tricks – I knead with a stand mixer for about six minutes. There are some folks who encourage hand-kneading, but it is not fun. So I use the mixer.

I also don’t worry about tap water. If your water distinctly smells like a pool, you can use filtered or let it sit a bit. The temperature doesn’t matter much. I’ve also never bloomed my yeast and it always seems to turn out aces.

That’s my bread.

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