- 8 oz. (1 ¾ cups) bread flour
- 8 oz. (1 cup) water
- 1/8 tsp. instant dry yeast
- 1 lb (3 5/8 cups) bread flour
- 8 oz. (1½ cups ) fine cornmeal
- 12.2 oz. (1 ½ cups) water
- .6 oz. (1 Tbsp.) salt
- .17 oz. instant dry (1 ½ tsp.) yeast
- 1.6 oz. (3 Tbsp.) California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. (all of above) Poolish
Disperse the yeast in the water, add the flour, and mix until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for 12 to 16 hours at about 70°F.
Soaking and Mixing
Add the cornmeal to the mixing bowl and pour the dough water over it. Allow it to soak for about 15 minutes. This will begin softening the cornmeal, and mixing and handling quality will improve. Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the poolish. In a stand mixer such as a KitchenAid-type mixer, mix on first speed for 2 ½ minutes in order to incorporate the ingredients. The absorption of the cornmeal can vary considerably (particularly with medium or coarse cornmeal), so it is important to check the dough carefully while it is on first speed and make corrections if necessary. The dough should be of medium consistency once the ingredients are incorporated. Turn the mixer to second speed and mix for 4 to 5 minutes. Cornmeal tends to have a puncturing effect on gluten; nevertheless, mix until there is a moderate gluten development. Desired dough temperature: 76°F. Bulk fermentation: 1 ½ hours.
Fold the dough after 45 minutes of bulk fermentation. To do so, flour the work surface, using somewhat more flour than you think is necessary. Excess flour will not be incorporated into the dough because it will all be brushed off. Turn the dough out onto the work surface, so that the top of the dough is neatly turned over and spread onto the floured work surface. Now take one side, say, the left side of the dough, and lift up about one-third of the bulk and turn it vigorously onto the body of the dough. With spread fingers, use both hands to pat down the dough and degas it. Don’t attempt to drive out every bit of fermentation gas; just enough to expel the major portion of the gases. Now take about one-third of the dough from the right side and fold it in toward the center, overlapping the first fold. Again press to degas. Be sure, before that second folding and prior to all folds, that any raw flour on the top surface of the dough is brushed away. After folding the right-hand third of the dough into the center, reach over to the far side of the dough, bring about one-third towards you and fold this portion. Finish by taking the dough closest to you and folding that portion away from you and into the center. When this fourth side has been folded, turn the dough over on the work surface so the seams are underneath, bring your hands under the dough from the left and right sides, pick it up in a mass and replace it in the dough container.
Dividing and Shaping
Divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces (or make rolls with smaller pieces). Pre-shape lightly into rounds and place on a lightly floured work surface, seams up. Cover the rounds with plastic. When the dough has relaxed sufficiently (10 to 20 minutes), shape it into tight round or oval loaves. Place the loaves into floured bannetons or onto lightly floured baker's lining and cover with plastic. Final fermentation: Approximately 1 to 1 ¼ hours at 75°F.
Invert the risen loaves onto a peel. Score the loaves as desired. Pre-steam the oven, load the bread into the oven, and steam again. Bake in a 460° F oven. If applicable, open the oven vents after the loaves show color in order to finish the bake in a drying oven. Loaves scaled at 1.5 pounds will bake in approximately 40 minutes. Let the breads cool fully before eating.
Bread, by Jeffrey Hamelman (John Wiley & Sons, 2004)
Published with permission from the author and King Arthur Flour.