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The Best Bread Ever

Ingredients & Directions

3 1/3 c Unbleached bread flour; (up
-to 4)
2 ts Fine sea salt
1 ts Instant yeast
1 1/4 c Water
Cornmeal for the baking

Place the flour, salt, and yeast in a food processor fitted with the metal
blade. Using an instant read thermometer, adjust the water temperature so
that the combined temperatures of the water and the flour give a base
temperature of 130 degrees if using a Cuisinart or KitchenAid, or 150
degrees if using a Braun. With the machine running, pour all but 2
tablespoons of the water through the feed tube. Process for 20 seconds,
adding the remaining water if the dough seems crumbly and dry and does not
come together into a ball during this time. Continue mixing the dough
another 25 seconds, for a total for 45 seconds.

Stop the machine and take the temperature of the dough with an instant read
thermometer, which should read between 75 degrees and 80 degrees. If the
temperature is lower than 75 degrees, process the dough for an additional 5
seconds. If the temperature of the dough is still lower than 75 degrees,
then process the dough for 5 seconds, up to twice more, until it reaches
the desired temperature. If the temperature is higher than 80 degrees,
remove the thermometer, scrape the dough from the food processor into an
ungreased bowl, and refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes. Check the temperature
of the dough after 5 minutes; the dough should be 80 degrees or cooler by
that time.

Remove the dough from the processor and place it in a large ungreased bowl.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to ferment for 1 1/2
to 2 hours at room temperature, about 70 degrees to 72 degrees. It will
increase in volume somewhat, but don’t be concerned by how much.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With a dough scraper or
kitchen knife, shape

the dough into a rough ball. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and let
rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

Place the fermented bread dough on an unfloured work surface so it can grab
the dry surface when rolled. Lightly cup both of your hands around the
dough. Scoop the palms of your hands under the loaf a few times. As the
dough stretches, tension will develop on the surface of the loaf. While
gently pressing down on the piece of dough, use a circular motion to roll
it along on the table, allowing it to catch and drag. Continue rolling
until the tension helps the dough form a tight ball under your hands.
Lightly dust the round shape with flour. Roll up your sleeve and press your
elbow right into the middle of the loaf. Rub and press until your elbow
hits the work surface. Press your fingers into the indentation in the dough
until a hole is formed in the center of the dough. Pick up the dough, and
turn it between your two hands to stretch and enlarge the hole in the loaf.
Slide your hands into the hole in the dough and rotate the dough around
them until the hole becomes approximately 6 inches in diameter. Place the
dough, seam side down, on a floured baking sheet. Cover and proof the loaf
for 45 minutes to an hour at room temperature, 70 to 72 degrees.

One hour before baking, put the oven rack on the second shelf from the
bottom of the oven and place the baking stone on the rack. Place a small
pan for water on the oven floor. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Carefully pour about 1 cup of warm water into the pan onto the oven floor.
Slash the loaf, then slide the couronne from the peel or the back of the
baking sheet onto the baking stone in the oven. Bake it at 425 degrees for
about 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove the bread form the oven and immediately place the loaves on a wire
rack to cool completely before storing.

Notes: Recipe courtesy of Charles Van Over, The Best Bread Ever

1 Servings

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