Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Lesson on Artisan Bread from My Friend Doug

So, recently, I had the privilege to take a break from teaching cooking classes and take a class of my own on a subject that has always captured my interest: BREAD.  There is nothing more comforting or nurturing than a fresh loaf of bread, but a true artisan loaf leavened with 100% natural starter is something not easily tamed in the home kitchen.

For help with my quest for the perfect boule, I went to my friend Doug.  You may already know him.  He owns Luminous Kitchens, a local business that makes delicious "Bum Bars" and hand-brewed Kombucha.  Whatdayaknow, the same guy makes some really genius bread, right here in BK and right in his home kitchen.  Luckily for you, he is starting to teach private lessons, so you can learn how to make incredible bread right in your very own home.  Email him to arrange your first class.

Doug showed me a few easy steps to:

- Equip a home kitchen with basic tools for artisan bread baking
- Keep a healthy natural starter
- Mix and proof dough
- Improve a home oven to make a better, crusty loaf of bread
- Best utilize extra sourdough starter

As with all baking, formulas and recipes are always key, but as Doug has taught me, much of the nuance of bread making depends on feel.  You really have to see it done right at least once to get an idea of how artisan bread baking really works.

Here's Doug's formula for a basic country white loaf taken (and adapted) from his tome of choice, Breads from the La Brea Bakery by Nancy Silverton.

12 oz. super active white flour starter
2 pounds plus 2 oz. white bread flour
1 pound 2 oz. water (adjusted to achieve proper consistency)
4 1/2 tsp salt