I thought I was allergic to gluten and after a long talk to Amazing Baker , Markus Farbinger ( also of Ile de Pain in Knysna) I am not ! I am allergic to all the additives commercially , massed produced bread contains. Artisan bread is made with a lot of love,using stone ground flour with NO additives or chemicals. ( I use Eureka Mills from the Overberg), fresh or Instant dry yeast and TIME .
To make three fat loaves you will need 1kilogram of stone ground white bread flour.Either 15grams of Fresh yeast or a 7gram satchet of Instant Dry yeast.When using fresh yeast it needs to be dissolved in water first,dry yeast goes into the dry flour.
You also need a good Sea Salt,I use Maldon Sea salt.A good salt does add flavour .Get 2 small bowls ready,one for the fresh yeast ( if using) and one for the sea salt. Using 200 mls of water dissolve the yeast in one bowl.With another 200 mls of water ( I use filtered water) dissolve the salt in the other bowl.You will need 4 teaspoons of salt.
Then measure ,in a little jug another 350mls of water.
Get a LARGE clean ,dry bowl out and oil it with olive oil.Your dough will rise in this bowl so it needs to be large.You will also need a clean tea towel to cover the large bowl. I also rushed out and bought a Pink dough scraper ,a flat plastic wedge .It helps to have one of these to clear the dough off the counter at the end.
Of course,mine had to be pink ! Matches the scale ...
First you need to sift your flour onto your work surface. I just use my kitchen counter top which is wooden.Then make a well in the middle of the flour mound.If you are using dry yeast ,sprinkle it onto the flour now.If not,take the dissolved yeast and pour some of it into the well.With a claw like hand ,in a circular motion slowly swirl ,from the middle of the well to incorporate the water/yeast mix.Then add the salted water,then the rest of the water,swirling all the time,round and round wider and wider as the dough starts to form.
This is jolly good arm exercise !!I usually have to ,with my free dry hand scoop the outsides of the flour pile in a little as you don't want your dough on the floor !!Here is the 15g fresh yeast dissolving in the 200 mls of water.
Keep swirling and mixing until all the flour and water is mixed.You will have a rough unstructured dough mound now.Pat it into a roundish shape and put it into the large bowl.You may need to use a little flour to get the stickiness off your hands.
Here is the rough dough mound in the bowl.Cover the bowl and place it in a quiet place to begin the first rise. After 45 minutes or thereabouts ( this can be a bit weather related as on very warm days the bread will rise quickly). Take out the dough and gently put it on a floured surface.Fold the ends in over each other until it forms a springy ball.Don't overwork it though !
Here is the risen dough .
Folding over .
The dough has to rise and be folded and worked 3 more times,45 minutes each ! I usually write 45 on my kitchen blackboard 4 times and then cross it off after each rise! After the last 45 minutes,cut the dough into 3 pieces 500g each. Pat and round each piece and place them on a baking paper covered board.Cover with a cloth and leave for a last rise of 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 250deg C ,with a baking tray in the oven large enough to hold the dough shapes.Just before you put the dough in the oven place a cast iron pan filled with a cup of water into the bottom of the oven.This makes steam ,which helps the bread to rise.Slide the risen rounds onto the hot baking tray,with a sharp knife cut three lines across the top of the dough for stam to escape ( just score them don't cut too deep) and place in the oven.
Turn the heat down to 220 deg C for 10 minutes. Then down to 180degC for 25minutes.
You will smell the bread baking and give yourself a round of applause.
After 25 minutes you will have 3 artisan loaves.Beware they get eaten very fast and you may have to start all over again,sooner than you think !!