Wife has been pressuring me to make more kinds of bread. I have this whole book to go through. I haven't gotten to the level of making starters yet, but soon. She's right, although the white bread is incredibly good I need to explore more breads. I love making bread.
This bread is simply entitled Zeppelin. It reminds me a little bit of Ecce Panis neo-Tuscan bread. What I found most fascinating about this recipe was that you are to collect a tin can of wood ashes from your fireplace or barbecue pit to place in the back of the oven during baking to give an authentic baked on the hearth flavor to the bread. Regrettably, I have neither a fireplace or a barbecue pit, or a grill for that matter (now that I think about it that may need to change this spring), so I wasn't able to add this flavor accent to the bread. I bet it's nice.
Another thing about the recipe that I was able to accomplish was basting the bread every 10 minutes during the baking process with a strong solution of salt water. Basting the bread gave the crust of the bread a flaky, crispiness, and while I thought the saltiness may be overpowering it actually sort of dances on your tongue reminding you that you're chewing on something awesome.
This recipe comes fromBernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads, which has been a cardinal educational tool for me in the kitchen.
A printer-friendly version of this recipe can be found by clicking here.
So here's my flour and water mixed.
Sprinkle on a thin layer of flour and seal with plastic wrap. Let this do its thing for 3 hours.
Here's what it looks like after 3 hours. It moves and breathes. Commence Frankenstein themed shouting because it is indeed a life of its own. Enjoy the yeasty blast that emerges from under the plastic when you open it. You don't get to smell that every day unless you work in a brewery or bakery. So good.
Mixing in the dried milk, salt, and hot water dilutes the living mass.
While slowly mixing add your remaining flour. Whether or not you use 2 or 3 cups is entirely up to you. I find that if you use too little flour the dough will not only be too sticky but the yeast seems to run out of fuel when you're trying to get it to rise.
On the other hand, you'll be able to tell when you're kneading that you've used too much flour because the dough is very tough. In some cases even adding a little water doesn't help. If you've used too much flour adding a little water (try 1 tsp at a time) isn't going to hurt, and your bread isn't ruined. It may take a little longer to rise, and the finished bread may be a little tough inside, but not terrible altogether.
Here I've dumped out the contents of the mixing bowl onto the counter. When my mixer starts struggling I know to stop adding flour and to start mixing/kneading by hand. If the dough is too sticky I just grab about a tablespoon of flour with my hands and incorporate it.
With this particular type of bread, try to keep it a little more on the moist and sticky side. When you're kneading this it should feel silky and very squishy - almost like one of those stress ball things.
Starting to look good..
And we have our nice round shape. Time to put this in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let this double in size. It should take about an hour, but keep an eye on it.
After doing your rising shape it and place it on the baking sheet. Mine aren't perfectly shaped but this will work.
I let these rise again before placing in the oven. To prevent those wrinkles you could probably rub some oil on the top before letting them rise - keep the air from permeating the surface and drying out or creating a skin the the top of the bread.
I reshaped these a little so they'd have a little space between them before I put them in the oven. I want three loaves of bread not one big indistinguishable mass...
Jokes about what this looks like are too easy - I'll let you indulge yourself if you want to go there.
I broke my oven door when attempting to put the bread in the oven. Pulled on the handle and the left side just came right off.
The head of the screw is on the inside of the oven, holds layers of the oven door together and the end of the screw holds the handle on. The left side came loose. Unfortunately, I couldn't fix it at the time because the oven, the door, and the screw were all 400 degrees.
Remember not to forget your basting - it makes the bread!
And here we have our finished bread. My first impression is that it didn't come out as balloonish shaped as I thought, you know...Zeppelin...
This is excellent sandwich bread. If you slice this in half the long way you could make some huge-ass sandwiches. You could then slice those sandwiches the normal way for awesome appetizers or party food.
I did make a batch of this where I made 6 smaller loaves as opposed to 3 larger loaves. They came out perfect for slicing the long way to make substantial individual sandwiches.