Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Cure To My Parisian Batard Woes!!

People who know me... know that I spend a good part of my time back in Singapore, suffering from Parisian Bread Withdrawals. And the later part of the year, is usually spent scurrying to my favourite bakery in town to get my Batard fix for the following week.

I wanted to try my hand at making a passable Batard to tide me over, but after watching Julia Child / Danielle Forestier's video, I balked at the thought of having to slap the dough 850 times in the humid tropical weather of Singapore.

Last night, I decided to try sussing out another recipe as a comparison and if push comes to shove... by jove I will slap the darn dough 850 times.

Through this determined attempt, I came across Andrea's website . In it, she mentioned about a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day. I could literally kiss Andrea's blog for this is the first time I've heard of the book, that is apparently the toast of the bread world.

I was skeptical of a recipe that was a no knead method and involved minimal handling. All I had to do was throw in Yeast, Water, Salt and Flour, stir, refrigerate and pull out a handful whenever I needed a loaf of Batard, bake and enjoy.

I tried it today, with Andrea's reduced amount of Yeast... and it was as good as any Batard I've tasted. True, there is a 2 hour resting period, true, you need to refrigerate it for some time before complexities in the dough developes. But anything that doesn't require me sweating in the humid heat of a 33 degree celsius kitchen, is a good recipe.

I halved Andrea's version as I wasn't sure how well it would work in my tropical humidity.
Here is my adaptation then:

3 1/4 Cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 3/4 Cups Water (recently cooled)
3/4 Tablespoon Salt (I used Fleur de Sel just for kicks)
1/8 Tablespoon Pepper + Coarse Sea Salt
(Coz my batard was meant for a Honey Baked Ham/Cheese Breakfast Sandwich)
1/2 Tablespoon Instant Yeast

1. Mix everything together in a huge tub. Ensure that the tub can accommodate three times of original dough quantity.

2. Refrigerate the tub. Remember that 14 days is the recommended maximum length of time to keep the bread dough. This refrigeration is recommended as dough complexities start to develop over time (I've got another batch waiting to be baked in approximately 3 days)

3. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, before pulling apart a chunk that you require for a loaf. Drop it in flour, covering the top as well as the bottom. Work the dough into a ball, and then start folding the tops slowly into the bottom, as though trying to create a creaseless dome top.
Do this for about 5 minutes in order to create a gluten cloak.

4. Shape the dough as desired, placing the finished dough onto a sheet of baking paper.

5. In a pre-heated oven, of about 230 degrees celsius, I placed a stainless steel bowl.
Just before baking, throw in a few cubes of ice into this stainless steel bowl in order to create the steam required to bake/steam the bread.

6. Bake this for approximately 20 minutes. (I had to do mine for about 30 mins total as I wasted too much time getting it into my mini oven because I had to do space apportionment between steel bowl, oven thermometer and dough. Temperature of oven dropped as a result)

7. Take your first bite of the crumbly crisp bread before doing anything else with it.

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