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Artisan Baking Across America: The Breads, the Bakers, the Best Recipes
Thom Leonard's Kalamata Olive Bread
This has become an artisan-bakery classic, found in almost all bakeries and bread books, but I include it because Thom Leonard's version is by far the best I have ever tasted. Thom says it is so good because of the huge amount of almost whole, very ripe, black-purple Kalamatas he adds to the simple sourdough base. His olive source, Nicola, is strictly wholesale, but Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will send you olives of equal quality if you ask for the "bulk Kalamatas" (see Sources, page 222). Do not use the small, hard, pale purple Kalamatas you find at the grocery; the bread just won't be the same.
Recipe Synopsis - THE MORNING OF THE DAY BEFORE BAKING: Refresh your active sourdough starter. (If it has been stored in the refrigerator, start refreshing it 2 days before baking with it, for at least 3 times.) THAT EVENING: Mix the levain and let it ferment overnight. THE NEXT MORNING: Mix the dough in the morning and let it ferment for 3 1/2 hours. Shape the dough, then let it proof for about 2 hours. Bake the bread for about 45 minutes.
THE EVENING BEFORE BAKING - Making the Levain
1 1/2 tablespoons (0.8 ounce) Fermented Firm Sourdough Starter (pages 91-94), refreshed 8 hours before
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Water, lukewarm
3/4 cup (4 ounces) Unbleached bread flour
Dissolve the sourdough in the water in a small bowl. Add the flour and beat this batterlike dough until very smooth. Place in a covered container and let it ferment overnight for 12 hours, or until fully risen and just starting to sink in the middle.
BAKE DAY - Mixing the Dough
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (11.3 ounces) Water, lukewarm
1 2/3 cups (9 ounces) Unbleached bread flour, preferably organic
1 2/3 cups (9 ounces) Unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably organic
1/4 cup (1.1 ounces) Whole-rye flour, preferably organic
1 tablespoon (0.5 ounce)
1 3/4 cups (10 ounces) Very ripe and flavorful Kalamata olives
By Hand: Add the water to the fermented levain to loosen it from the
container. Combine the flours in a large bowl. Pour in the watered levain and stir with your hand or a wooden spoon just until a rough dough forms. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and knead, using a dough scraper to help, until the dough is very smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle on the salt and continue to knead the bread until the salt has fully dissolved.
Pit the olives and gently knead them into the dough until evenly
distributed. You want the bread marbled with purple, rather than completely
By Stand Mixer: Add the water to the fermented levain to loosen it from the container. Add the flours to the mixing bowl and combine them quickly with your hand. Pour in the watered levain and stir with your hand or a wooden spoon just until a rough dough forms. Using the dough hook, mix the dough on medium speed until it is very smooth and shiny and cleans the bowl, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle on the salt and continue mixing until the salt is fully dissolved and the dough is much tighter, about 3 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on an unfloured work surface.
Pit the olives. To pit them easily, lightly smash the olives with the side of a chef's knife, then pick out the pits with your fingers. Gently knead them into the dough by hand until evenly distributed. You want the bread marbled with purple, rather than completely purple.
The dough should be soft, sticky, and very extensible.
FERMENTING AND TURNING THE DOUGH - Place the dough in a container at least 3 times its size and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it ferment, preferably at 75oF, until it is airy and well fermented but not yet doubled in bulk, about 3 hours. Turn the dough (page 16) 3 times at 20-minute intervals, that is, after 20, 40,and 60 minutes of fermenting, then leave the dough undisturbed for the remaining time.
ROUNDING AND RESTING THE DOUGH - Flour the surface of the dough and your work surface and turn the dough out. Cut the dough in half; each piece should weigh 24 ounces (680 grams). Gently round them (page 17) with more flour; cover them loosely with plastic wrap, and let them rest until well relaxed, 15 to 20 minutes.
SHAPING AND PROOFING THE DOUGH - Shape the dough into even and tight round loaves without deflating them. Place the dough topside down in linen-lined baskets, lightly sprinkle with flour, and cover well with plastic wrap. Proof the dough until it is well expanded, about 3 hours.
PREHEATING THE OVEN - At least 45 minutes before the dough is fully proofed, arrange a rack on the oven's second-to-top shelf and place a baking stone on it. Clear away all racks above the one being used. Preheat the oven to 425oF (220oC).
BAKING THE BREAD - If desired, just before baking the bread, fill the oven with steam (page 18). Turn the breads out onto a sheet of parchment paper or a floured peel and slash an off-center line across the top. Spray the breads lightly with water, then slide them, still on the paper, onto the hot stone. Bake the breads until dark and evenly browned all around, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating them halfway into the bake. Let the breads cool on a rack.
Baking Team USA Sweet Dough
This full-flavored sweet dough is very similar to the kugelhopf dough (page 181) except that it is slightly richer. It is also kneaded in four stages, which may seem tedious but will net a bread
with a pillowy light, finely grained, tender yellow crumb and a tremendous rise in the oven. It has a richly fermented flavor, thanks to its long, cold fermentation. The original formula called
for a pre-ferment, but on team member Glenn Mitchell's advice, I dropped it in favor of an extended chilling.
The two-part method of making bread-first kneading the dough, then chilling it to finish it up to two days later-is especially convenient. I like to make the dough at night after dinner, then finish it late the next afternoon or evening. That way, I can bake in the evening, with the main mess of ingredient gathering and kneading out of the way.
Once this dough is fully fermented, you can use it in your favorite recipe or try it in the delicious triad of sweet breads that follow: Baking Team USA Caps, Macrina's Cinnamon Monkey Bread, and Acme's Cinnamon-Currant Bread with Walnuts.
Recipe Synopsis - Mix the dough, then chill it for 8 hours or up 2 days. Let it warm to room temperature for 2 hours. Shape, fill, and bake the bread as desired.
AT LEAST 8 HOURS AND UP TO 2 DAYS BEFORE BAKING - Mixing the Dough
1/2 cup (4.4 ounces) Milk, any kind
2 teaspoons (0.2 ounce) Instant yeast
2 2/3 cups (14 ounces) Unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large Eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons (0.3 ounce) Table salt
6 tablespoons (2.5 ounces) Granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Unsalted butter, softened if mixing by hand or stand
mixer, chilled if mixing by food processor
Microwave the milk on high power for 4 minutes or heat in a small saucepan on top of the stove until bubbles form around the edge, steam rises, and the milk smells cooked. Let it cool to 105o to 115oF, about the temperature of a comfortably hot bath. (Scalding the milk denatures a protein in the milk that attacks the gluten; if this step is skipped, the bread's texture will be coarser and denser.) Sprinkle the yeast over the milk, stir, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
By Hand: Add the flour to a large bowl, then add the yeast mixture and the eggs. With a wooden spoon or your hand, mix the dough just until well combined. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rest (autolyse) for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the salt to the dough and mix the dough in the bowl just until
combined. Turn the dough out of the bowl and knead until it is smooth and strong, 5 to 10 minutes. The dough will first be gritty with the salt, but it will soon dissolve. Add half the sugar and
knead the dough again until the sugar dissolves; add the remaining sugar and knead the dough until the sugar is fully incorporated and the dough is very smooth. Finally, add the butter in 2 additions and knead it into the dough until the dough is satiny smooth, soft, and glossy.
By Stand Mixer: Add the flour to the mixing bowl, then add the yeast
mixture and the eggs. Mix the dough just until well combined. Cover the
bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rest (autolyse) for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the salt to the dough and, using the dough hook, mix the dough on low speed until it is smooth, about 3 minutes. This is a soft dough that will never clean the bowl. Add the sugar in 2 additions then the butter in 2 additions, mixing until each addition is completely incorporated before adding the rest. Continue to mix the dough until it is satiny smooth, soft, and glossy.
By Food Processor: Add the flour and the salt to the workbowl fitted with the steel blade and pulse to combine them. Remove the cover and add the yeast mixture and eggs. Process the dough until it forms a smooth ball and begins to fog the workbowl. Remove the dough from the workbowl and knead it by hand to cool it and redistribute the heat. The dough will feel fairly stiff once it cools off. Return the dough to the workbowl, process it for 30 seconds, remove it again, and hand knead to cool it. Repeat this process 2 or 3 more times until the dough is very smooth and strong. Return the dough to the workbowl.
With the machine running, slowly add the sugar through the feed tube and process the dough until the sugar has dissolved and the dough is smooth. The dough will be very sticky at this point. Remove the dough and hand knead it to cool it again. Return the dough to the workbowl. Cut the butter into chunks and add about half to the workbowl. Process the dough until the butter is incorporated, about 30 seconds. If the dough is very warm, hand knead it again to cool it. Add the rest of the chunked butter and process it again until it is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. The dough should be very smooth, extensible, and silky.
FERMENTING THE DOUGH - Place the dough in a container at least 3 times its size and cover it tightly with plastic wrap, or after rolling it in flour, place the dough in a large plastic bag and seal the bag well. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days. Let the dough warm to room temperature for 2 hours before shaping it.
Macrina's Cinnamon Monkey Bread
about 10 minutes of active work
Macrina Bakery and Caf, in Seattle is the little artisan bakery I wish I had just around the corner. In a suavely renovated room with a coffee bar and a scrumptious selection of homey baked goods, one morning I had a wonderful breakfast of excellent coffee served in a huge ceramic mug and this delicious and intricate-looking (but easily shaped) bread. Although it is called a monkey bread, it does not pull apart; instead, it is sliced to display a thick swirl of apple butter and cinnamon sugar. Leslie Mackie, the bakery's founder, writes, "The joy of this loaf is its delicious apple-cinnamon glaze. Apples being a staple here
in Washington, it seemed a natural combination with the cinnamon sugar.
This is a very popular morning bread at Macrina, shared with a steaming cup of joe."
Recipe Synopsis - Shape and fill the fermented sweet dough, let it proof for 2 to 3 hours, then wash it with beaten egg and bake it for about 45 minutes.
BAKE DAY - Shaping the Dough
1/2 cup packed ( 3.5 ounces) Brown sugar
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) Granulated sugar
1 tablespoon (0.3 ounce) Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
Fully fermented Sweet Dough (above), warmed
to room temperature
1 cup (10.2 ounces) Apple butter
1/4 cup (2 ounces) Unsalted butter, melted
1 large Egg, beaten
1 tablespoon (0.3 ounce) Sesame seeds
Butter two 9 x 5-inch baking pans and line them with 12 x 9-inch rectangles of parchment paper, leaving the 5-inch sides bare.
Combine the sugars and spices in a small bowl. Roll out the fermented dough into an 18 x 10-inch rectangle, about H inch thick. Spread it with an even layer of the apple butter, drizzle it with the melted butter, and then sprinkle it with the spiced sugar mixture.
Roll both long edges in so that they meet in the center in a very long and narrow double roll. The dough is very thick so you will be able to roll the sides only once. Flip the dough seam side down and cut it crosswise in half so that you have two 9-inch-long pieces. The top of the dough will retract when you cut it, exposing the filling. Place the loaves seam side down in the prepared baking pans, cover them well with plastic wrap, and let them proof until risen to the tops of the pans, 2 to 3 hours.
PREHEATING THE OVEN - About 30 minutes before the dough is fully proofed, arrange a rack on the oven's bottom shelf and clear away all racks above the one being used. Preheat the oven to 325oF (160oC).
BAKING THE BREAD - Brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake until the breads turn a rich brown color, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating them halfway into the bake. Let cool for 10 minutes, then immediately remove them from the pans onto a rack, using a spatula to loosen the breads if necessary. (Do not allow the breads to cool in the pans or the sugar will harden and they will stick in the pans.) The breads will crack and seem to collapse as you remove them from the pans, but this is their correct final shape.
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