Since I’m now addicted to the stuff, I keep a supply of chilled bread dough that’s ready to bake at a moment’s notice. I use the previously posted artisan bread recipe, and these days pretty much every loaf turns out great. This has nothing to do with my skills; it’s all in the overnight rise and the old dough streaks mixed into new batches. So don’t fix something that isn’t broke, right?
Nah. I mixed up a recent batch with some wheat flour to see how things would change. Not long later our friends called to ask if we might bring bread to that evening’s dinner party, and determined to oblige, I baked a loaf after three hours of rising, reasoning that we could always pick something up if this one faltered. The bread came out bulging a bit at the sides but nevertheless had crispy crust and moist, well-textured interior. Most surprising of all, it had fine flavor.
Now, being a mere mortal, I’ve personally never gotten good results after a short rise, which suggests there’s something to this particular dough. Maybe leftover bits from the previous batch lent some fast flavor and ferment. And what about the role of the wheat flour — did it help the gluten to develop more efficiently? In any case, I’ve now baked three more loaves from this light wheat batch. Charlie thought the flavor was superior to plain white, even if he couldn’t quite put his finger on what made it better (that’s his gnawed piece below, snatched away for a photo before it was all gone). It’s hard to believe wheat flour could be a secret ingredient, but hey, no one needs to know.
Recipe: Light Wheat Bread
Wood or plastic mixing bowl (just don’t use metal) / 3 cups tap water at 100 degrees / 2 tsp salt / 2 tsp active dry yeast / 5 cups all-purpose unbleached white flour / 1 cup wheat flour
See the previously posted artisan bread recipe for prep & baking instructions. You may need to increase the bake time to 33-35 minutes; remove from oven when the crust is hard to touch. Adapted from Hertzberg & Francois’ Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, a great resource for new home bread bakers.