Today is World Bread Day, a celebration of all things, um, well, bread. In preparation of such a glorious day, I made up a batch of biga yesterday, which I will use later this evening to make some ciabatta. So, since this isn’t yet made, all I have to show is …
This is actually quite simple to make.
- 18 oz bread flour
- 12 oz warm water
- 1/3 oz salt (I use grey salt)
- 1/3 oz yeast (I use fresh yeast)
Heat oven to 450-500F.
In a somewhat large bowl, work the salt and yeast into the flour, and add the water. Stir everything together with a dough scraper or, if you don’t have a scraper, use one of those free credit cards you always get in the mail. Don’t worry if the dough isn’t all that uniform.
Dump it all onto a clean counter, lift up the dough and slam it (oh yes, slam it) back onto the counter. Stretch out the dough when you lift it, circle it onto itself so that some air gets trapped in the dough, and repeat this process until the dough becomes elastically (neologism? perhaps). You’ll know you’re doing it right if it sounds like you’re beating the crap out of someone. (The superintendant of our building actually knocked on my door once, thinking I was taking out my life’s frustrations on the milliner.) The dough will initially stick to your hands; don’t worry about it, this stops after a while.
Spread some flour onto the counter, place dough onto the flour, and form it into a ball. Lightly oil the bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and let rest, cover, for an hour.
After an hour, spread some more dough onto the counter, turn dough lightly! onto the counter, and divide into four parts. (I usually keep back about a fifth of the dough, which I place in the fridge and use in my next batch.) Don’t punch the dough down, simply make them into balls and let ’em rest for about 15 minutes. Roll them out into cigar shapes, about 12 in/30 cm long, place on a floured towel, cover with another towel, and let rest for, again, about 45 minutes.
After the 45 minutes are up, place on of the “baguettes” onto a floured cookie sheet (I use the back of said sheet), take some scissors, and cut down about 3/4 of the way through the dough, making about 5-7 cuts per baquette, and twisting each portion to the left or right side.
Place in the oven, spray the oven with some water, and cook for about 10-12 minutes.
You’re supposed to let the epis rest for about 15 minutes after you take them out of the oven, but I find that butter melts much better when the bread is warm.
This is why I don’t boulder. Same movement, over and over. All the pressure on one single finger pad. The skin eventually explodes. In all the time that I’ve been climbing, I’ve never had a flapper. First time for everything, I guess.
Luckily, a couple bucks worth of Krazy Glu should seal that sucker right up.