22 November 2019

NO-KNEAD RUSTIC BREAD

When it comes to dough hydration, higher hydration means light, open crumb bread, but it also means stickier dough, perhaps harder to work with. Over the years, I have done quite a bit of experimenting when it comes to hydration, and I have settled that my favourite is the 70%, with an overnight rise. This particular loaf is one of my favourites, especially because of the slow rise.
Other than giving the baked bread a much richer, deeper flavour, it is quite handy, because it requires very little mixing, and gives full flexibility when it comes to the actual baking. And once baked, it has just the right level of chewiness, with a perfect, soft texture, and a crunchy crust. Quite a simple bread, ideal for breakfast, served hot, right off the baking sheet, with a flavourful savoury spread.


Ingredients
350 grams plain flour
240 ml lukewarm water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon dry yeast


Preparation
Sift the flour into a large bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and mix very well. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water, oil, and salt. Vigorously stir with a wooden spoon until a very soft dough forms. Alternatively, take a small container and fill it with lukewarm water. Lightly dip your fingers, and vigorously mix the ingredients for a minute or so. It will be sticky, so keep your hands damp. Once ready, cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment. It will be soft, but using a little bit of flour, you will be able to shape it into an imperfect loaf. Bake it in a preheated oven, at 220°C, for about 25-30 minutes, checking often after 25 minutes, so it does not burn around the edges. Once it is baked, generously spray the surface with cold water. This will make it very soft and slightly chewy once cooled. Let the bread cool slightly, and as soon as it is comfortable for you to handle it, tear it into pieces, and serve with your meal.

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