Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Normandy Apple Bread

Have you read Kitchen Confidential by Tony Bourdain? He has one part in the book in which his master bread baker calls him in the morning after a bender with instructions to "feed the bitch!". By which he means the sourdough starter, which is the secret to his amazing breads but which he unfortunately was too inebriated to look after at the moment.

A sourdough starter is indeed the bread baker's secret weapon and there are as many ways to cultivate one as there are starters out there. Check out Bread Baking Babe Susan's instructions on cultivating your own starter if you have never made one before, or, if you do have one going - chances are you have developed your own style of keeping it fed and happy. Even if that means calling in reinforcements to help you in your babysitting cultivating.

Now that you have gotten a good starter going you can make slightly more complex breads, they have a nice tang and they actually don't get stale as fast as simple breads. Bonus all around.

This is a bread that takes advantage of a starter culture as well as instant yeast. It is slightly sweet from delicious dried apples - store-bought or homemade - and smells wonderful while it bakes. If you can find mulled cider for your recipe, you will also enjoy the earthy spices that it has to offer.

Likely your apple bits will be bigger than mine, I was using up some small apple chips that blended into the dough pretty well. But either way, it's delicious!

Normandy Apple Bread
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
for the Mellow Bakers

Day One:

Stiff Levain Ingredients:
Bread flour- 5.8 oz
Water- (room temp, left out all night) 3.5 oz
Mature culture- 1.2 oz (2T+1tsp)

Approximately 12 hours (more if cool in the kitchen) before you start the dough, build up this stiff levain. Mix all together, adding a tiny bit of water if necessary. Cover and let stand while you snooze.

Day Two:

Good morning! And welcome to day two.

Final Ingredients:
Bread flour- 1lb., 7 oz
Whole wheat flour- 3.2 oz
Water- (that has been left out all night) 7.4 oz
Apple cider- 10.9 oz
Salt- 1 Tbsp
Instant yeast- ½ Tbsp
Levain- (what you made last night) 9.3 oz (all, less 2T+1tsp)
Dried apples- 4.8 oz

Mix everything together, except the apples, in your stand mixer with the dough hook. 3 minutes on low to combine, then 3 minutes on medium.
Turn out onto a board and add the apples. Knead until they are evenly distributed.
Form into a ball and let rise 2 hours, covered.
Fold after one hour.
When your 2 hours are up, divide the dough into 2 and shape into loaves. Let rise, covered, 1½ hours.
Meanwhile, preheat oven, with stone, to 450°F.
Mist and slash loaves and bake for 15 minutes at that temperature, then turn down to 420°F and bake for about another 25 minutes. For a total baking time of about 40 minutes.
Let cool on racks.
Goes great with cream cheese!

(your rising times will be shorter if you have a hot kitchen - use your own discretion)
This bread has been Yeastspotted!