To the right: Possibly the most photogenic bread I’ve ever baked on Flickr.
This is the bread I make when I need plain white bread for everyday sandwich or toast purposes. It has a lovely crumb and is a substantial bread, not an airy-fairy "pan loaf" of the type too damn common in British and Irish supermarkets. (Which is not to mean that it’s one of those loaves you make that refuses to rise and which you therefore desperately characterize as “substantial” so people will think you meant it to come out that way.)
The basic recipe came from the website of Bäckerei Sieber in Au, a town in Canton St. Gallen in Switzerland. The recipe itself is for Tessinerbrot or “bread from Ticino”; down in that southern canton the Roman breadmaking techniques have persisted unusually tenaciously. Since Roman bread had a deserved reputation for being very high-end indeed -- a reputation which Spanish-bred bakers brought to it -- this is a good thing.
The peculiarity about this recipe (from the home baker’s point of view, anyway) is that the recipe manages its ingredients by mass rather than volume. This is how professional bakers do things, though, at least in Switzerland: it seems to get around the problem of how much moisture your local flour is in a mood to absorb today. One caveat: this dough tends toward the wet and sticky end of the bread dough spectrum, so it’s really easier made in a mixer with a dough hook. Also, I sometimes bake this using the bake-it-in-a-preheated-pot technique which derives from the famous Lahey no-knead bread recipe. Pot baking produces a good high rise with little work, and with a really nice crust. (Though sometimes the old-fashioned loaf pan technique produces very superior results, as above. The Bread Fairy was really sitting on my shoulder that day.)
This recipe makes one big loaf. I’ve baked this in anything from a Romertopf to a single US-style loaf pan to a 3-liter lidded casserole of enamelled cast iron. This recipe branches several times: think of it as a Choose-Your-Own-Bread story.
The ingredients:( Read more... )