The best kind of bread. It takes on a unique flavor based on the yeast that lives in your area. Mine had a hint of Parmesan cheese, which was great for my lactose intolerant friend who’s never been able to taste cheese before. At least not without it ending very poorly. This recipe has been modified slightly from the one shown in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, I know its long and very tedious, but very worth it. Pro Tip: The longer its been since you’ve refreshed your barm (3 days max) the sourer your bread will be.
Makes 2 Loaves
2/3 cup barm
1 cup bread flour
1/8 to 1/4 cup water
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups water (90 to 100 F)
Corn meal for dusting
1. Use a measuring cup dipped in cold water to measure out 2/3 cup of the barm into a mixing bowl.
2. Add the flour to the mixing bowl and the enough water to make everything a firm, slightly sticky, doughy ball. This is your starter.
3. Lightly oil the starter ball and seal with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature until it doubles in size (4 to 8 hours depending on temp and humidity). Then put it in the fridge.
4. Remove the starter from the fridge 1 hour before making the dough.
5. Cut the starter into 10 pieces, lightly cover in oil and let sit another hour to take the chill off.
6. Stir together the salt and flour in an electric mixer bowl. Add the starter pieces and enough of the lukewarm water to bring everything together into a ball.
7. Mix with a dough hook on medium-low speed for 4 minutes, rest for 10 minutes and then mix another 4 minutes. The dough should be firm but tacky.
8. Lightly coat the dough with oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
9. Let sit at room temperature to double in size (4 to 8 hours again).
10. Dust a baking towel with cornmeal, split the dough into two equal parts and form into loaves gently being careful not to degas the dough.
11. Mist the dough with oil and cover loosely by folding over the towel.
12. Let the dough rest for 2 to 3 hours.
13. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Put a baking pan on the top rack (you will add water to this right after the bread goes in to create steam).
14. Score the dough diagonally like you see done with real dough (or in the movies). Dust a peal or cookie sheet with cornmeal and put the loaves on it.
15. Put the loaves in the oven and add a cup or two of water to the baking pan on the top rack and close the door.
16. After 30 seconds spray the walls of the oven with water using a mister. Repeat two more time at 30 second intervals.
17. Reduce the oven to 450 degrees and bake for 10 minutes.
18. Rotate the loaves 180 degrees and cook another 10 to 20 minutes until its rich golden brown all over and sounds hollow when you tap on it.
19. Transfer to a cooking rack for at least 45 minutes before eating your delicious, delicious reward.