We came across this recipe by Accidental Artisan and she has kindly permitted us to share it here. This is a new venture for our test kitchen after focusing primarily on sourdough bread baking. If you're looking for a simple introduction to artisanal bread but are not ready to jump in to the sourdough process this could be a great starting point for you. This recipe uses only 1/4tsp of yeast, and allows the bread to slowly ferment over a period of 6-8 hours, before it is shaped and baked in a Dutch oven. You can experience the caramelized crust, moist crumb and deeper flavour of an extended ferment artisanal style loaf, using conventional yeast. This recipe is extremely simple and hands-off, but can allow you to practice shaping and working with high hydration doughs. You can find a much more beautiful picture of the Accidental Artisan's own loaf on her website.
As a note, we have experimented with 1) following the recipe just as written, 2) popping the dough, covered, into the fridge after mixing for an overnight cold ferment and then allowing it to come to room temperature and double before shaping as mentioned in her recipe notes below, and 3) putting the shaped loaf into the fridge for an overnight final ferment and baking it the next morning immediately after removing from the fridge. All three methods turned out well, which is just to say you can adapt the timing to fit your schedule.
Here is the recipe from Accidental Artisan:
500g organic whole grain spelt flour
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp instant yeast
400mL (400g) water at room temperature (21 degrees Celsius)
1) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast. In a measuring cup, or with your scale, measure out the water. Add the water to the dry ingredients and mix the dough until it is completely incorporated and sticks to your fingers. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes so the flour can absorb the water. After the rest, stretch and fold the dough by grabbing a piece of it from the outside edge, then gently lifting and folding that piece of dough over to the other side. Continue around the dough in a clockwise fashion until the dough has tightened.
2) Cover the bowl again and let it sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough has doubled in size (approximately 7-8 hours, depending on your room temperature, see note 1)
3) When the first rise is complete, place your heavy cast iron pot and lid into the oven and pre-heat the oven to 475 F. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. The pot needs to pre-heat for at least 30 minutes.
4) Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands gently pat the dough out into a rectangle. Fold one short side of the dough into the middle and then fold the other short side on top. Then fold the dough in half the other direction. Dust lightly with flour, gently and let rest for 5 minutes. While you are waiting, lightly flour your banneton basket or crumple a square piece of parchment paper, flatten it out again and line a medium sized bowl with it. Use your first to push the paper down into the bowl and your other hand to smooth the creases of the paper around the inside and top edge of the bowl. Repeat the folding process outlined above a second time.
5) With lightly floured hands, lift the dough and place it seam side up in your banneton basket or seam side down in the parchment lined bowl. Cover and place on the counter next to the stove for 20 minutes for the second rise. To test if the dough is ready, press, do not poke, the tip of one floured finger quickly and lightly, about half an inch, slightly off centre, into the crown of the dough. If the indentation remains but springs back slightly, the dough is ready for the oven. If the dent fills in, give the dough another 5-10 minutes to rise and re-test.
6) Remove the post from the oven and remove the lid.
7) If using a banneton basket, place a square piece of parchment paper on the counter and gently flip the dough on to it. Score the dough using a lame (or use a sharp pair of scissors to make 3-4 shallow cuts at a 45 degree angle along the centre line of the dough) to assist in "oven spring". Lift the dough by holding the corners of the parchment paper and lower it into the pot.
8) If using a bowl, first lift the dough out of the bowl by holding all corners of the parchment paper and lower it into the pot. Then use a lame and score the dough (or use a sharp pair of scissors to make 3-4 shallow cuts at a 45 degree angle along the centre line of the dough) to assist in "oven spring".
9) Cover the pot with the lid and put it back into the oven. Reduce the heat to 450F and bake for 30 minutes.
10) After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking for another 10 minutes until the bread is a lovely chestnut brown. Remove from the oven, carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly. If you have an instant read thermometer, the bread is done when the internal temperature is 190-200F
1) I am assuming a room temperature of 21 C here. If your room temperature is higher your dough will take less time to rise, if your room temperature is lower your dough will take more time to rise. At this point you can also place the covered dough in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or a plastic bag before placing in the fridge. Bring the dough back to room temperature and ensure it has doubled in size and the surface is dotted with bubbles before continuing.
2) Unless you will consume all the bread within 2-3 days, cut it in half after it has completely cooled and store one half in the freezer. When you are ready for another half loaf, use your hands to moisten the entire outside with water and place in a pre-heated 350F oven. Bake for 8 minutes or until the crust is hard to the touch, remove and let it finish thawing in the centre. It will taste like freshly baked bread!