My New Favorite Bread Formula and Method

Mix the levain, water, and bread flour in a large bowl and cover with plastic for about 45 minutes.  Sprinkle salt over the dough and fold four or five times until the salt is distributed.  Cover the dough and let it rest for 45 minutes.  Fold the dough again and let it rest 45 more minutes.  Repeat this process every 45 minutes four or five more times and then put it in the refrigerator over night.

Ingredients:

 

   100 grams levain

   300 grams warm water

   400 grams bread flour

   10 grams salt

    Rye flour for dusting

The next day

 

Bring the dough to room temperature, which usually takes three or four hours.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface, shape it into a free form loaf, and place it in a proofing basket.  If you don't have one, use an oiled bowl or a bowl lined with a well floured piece of linen.  Fire up your oven as hot as it will go, put a baking stone on the middle rack, and add a dish with some water to the bottom rack.

 

An hour or so later, place parchment paper on a peel or cookie sheet and transfer your loaf.  Slash the loaf with your own "baker's mark" and sprinkle the top with rye flour. 

 

Bake the loaf at 500 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn the heat down to 425.  Bake for another 20 minutes or so or until the bottom of your loaf gives a satisfying hollow sound when you tap it.  The crust should be golden brown and crunchy, the crumb tender, moist, and yielding.  I always double my batch so we have a loaf to eat and a loaf to share.  Delicious.