bake! boule

You might recall I’ve been trying to overcome my fear of yeast.  There have been some successes, some failures, and some that were too close to call either way.  So when I got my copy of Nick Malgieri’s bake! and saw that his bread recipes seemed far more accessible to my yeast averse self, I wanted to start baking immediately.  Mother Nature came through town and deposited a blanket of snow shortly thereafter which resulted in an unexpected weekday afternoon trying to coax magic out of some flour, yeast, and water.

I can not tell a lie.  I struggled with this method.  And by struggle I mean that I threw an entire batch of dough away because I was convinced that I had somehow manged to do it wrong.  The instructions and photos conveyed the notion that the dough would fully incorporate all of the flour with the deft use of a rubber spatula.  Not the first time I tried it.  And not the second either.  Both times I used half the flour to make a paste.  Both times I added half of the remaining flour and began folding.   Both times I struggled to get the first half of the remaining flour incorporated, let alone the second half.  Seeing how I got the same results both times, I decided to continue on with my second attempt and see where it got me.

Where it got me was up to my wrists in dough.  Because even my sturdiest rubber spatula could not get the upper hand.  So I chucked it aside and used my hands to gently fold the flour into the dough.  I was able to get all but about 1/4 cup incorporated.  There was a rise, some folding, more rising, and more folding all while I said a little prayer that all this work would result in something bread like coming out of my oven in a few hours.

It wasn’t until the dough had sat for an hour’s rise that my fears started to dissipate.  When I uncovered the bowl, I beheld the sight of doubled dough.  After some shaping and resting, the boules were slashed and slid into the oven.  Thirty minutes later, I pulled out the lovely loaf you see above.

I still can’t say whether my procedure was wrong or if my expectations were incorrect.  Oddly enough, I had a similar struggle with dry dough when I made Nick’s Quick Brioche.  But based on what he said at our bake! get together, his recipes are tested before they go to print.  So until I find reason otherwise, I have to say the problem lies somewhere in my kitchen.