In my quest for a bread that is slightly more sophisticated than the no-knead bread, but yet, relatively easy to produce on a regular basis, I’ve been playing with Nancy Silverton’s Country white bread recipe. The first one was okay, but I didn’t like the way it baked up. I resisted the temptation to cook it in my Le Cruset pot, and well, the crust was too hard, too thick, and slightly burned on the bottom (I have a baking stone in my oven).
This second loaf, while quite pretty, is a little tough. The challenge I’m having with this bread, is that my house is cool. The idea that someone’s house is routinely 70 to 75 degrees inside is very strange to me. In the summer, maybe — but my house runs between 60 and 68 degrees. Since what I’m after here is a recipe (or really, a sort of bread method that I don’t have to look up specifics for, but just know how to do) that will work on a regular basis in my house, I modified Silverton’s recipe some. Since my house is cool I decided to let the bread do it’s second rise up on top of the fridge overnight, alongside the batch of no-knead I was doing at the same time. This worked out great, except that in getting the second rise out of the bowl, it deflated, and so I had to re-shape it again, and let it rise again. Poor sourdough yeasties were pretty worn out by this time, and so I didn’t get the kind of rise I wanted.
What I’m going to try next time, is to mix up the dough in the late afternoon or early evening, do the first knead, and let it do the first rise overnight on top of the fridge. Then shape it, and let it do the second rise in my semi-banetton I’ve devised out of a proofing cloth set in a wire mesh colander (to get shape, and a nice skin on the dough — in a bowl it stays too wet). Then I’ll bake it using the cast-iron pot method from the no-knead recipe.
What I”m after is a bread with a bit more structure than the no-knead, but with that nice sourdough flavor, and the crust I’ve only ever gotten from cooking in the covered pot method.
So, onward, more bread experimentation …