All-day bread

January 23, 2016

Twenty-four hours' worth of bread. Twenty-four hours' worth of flavor.

Twenty-four hours’ worth of bread. Twenty-four hours’ worth of flavor.

This? This right here is a 24-hour loaf of bread, y’all.

Seriously. I started it by making a sponge one night about 8 p.m., to ferment on the counter overnight. Then the addition of more flour, more yeast, and dry milk (the container of which I dropped in the floor and spilled everywhere, luckily AFTER I’d gotten what I needed out) the next morning. A second ferment of four hours, and then adding butter, mixing, and letting the dough rest half an hour. Then 10 minutes of kneading time.  Then a 2 1/2 hour rise. Then turning out, shaping just a bit on a floured board, and back in the bowl for a second rise (at which point I realized I’d forgotten to add the damn salt, the last thing to go in. At least the fact I used salted butter, of which there are 9 tbsp in this stuff, offset that to some extent; I’ll work on remembering the salt next time). Then back out onto the board to be cut in half, stretched, folded, rolled, and put in loaf pans for the final rise.

About 8 p.m., we had bread. Twenty-four hour bread.

I took a notion to make a different sandwich bread from the Cook’s Illustrated I’ve been making, which is really, really good sandwich bread. But I wanted something a little more yeasty, a little more pungent; I just still wanted it to be soft, good for sandwiches, good for toasting. This is Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Classic Soft White Sandwich Bread (recipe here), from her cookbook, The Bread Bible. It’s got 20 almost universally positive and glowing reviews on Epicurious, and that’s generally a good recommendation.

Granted that most of this time is sit-and-wait time. It’s good for me, since I work at home, and can tend to bread in between projects at my desk. But you need to pick a day that you’re going to be home all day, with the possible exceptions of brief errands you can carry out during one of the rising periods. Nevertheless, it’s at the far other end of the scale from the quickie loaves in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day, for example.

The yeasty taste I was looking for is definitely there. It’s probably increased by the fact I failed to read the directions closely, and let it ferment on the counter overnight instead of in the fridge. But it’s close to 65 degrees in my kitchen when I’m not cooking, so it wasn’t warm enough for it to go crazy. And the loaf is definitely soft; softer than the Cooks Illustrated loaf, which, when made with the recommended Gold Medal or other soft flour, is pretty soft itself. This is a floppy enough dough it’s a little difficult to work with, but the long knead time in the mixer as well as the folding and rolling mean a good gluten development and a gorgeous rise.

And the acid test: How does it do with a meat loaf sandwich?

People, it does WONDERFULLY with a meat loaf sandwich. A schmear of mayo. Slices of meat loaf, about a half-inch thick. Slices of havarti and butterkase. More mayo on the top slice of bread. Wrapped loosely in foil, and popped in a hot oven long enough to heat the meat through, melt the cheese and make the bread just the tiniest bit crusty. With a bread and butter pickle spear on the side.

Have mercy. We are talking SO Sweet Baby Jesus upinhere. I make a fine meat loaf. I make a good loaf of bread. This particular week, I appear to have hit the magic combination of damn-near-perfect on both, and it paid off like a slot machine coming up three red sevens.

You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em come on by and I’ll make you one…if you hurry. Not sure how long this is gonna last.

 

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