Bread can be a glorious thing. Too often, though, it’s perceived as a tedious thing, something only REAL bakers do. Or, at least something you let your bread machine do. I have no problem with bread machines (I use mine a lot), but no bread machine will ever replicate the crust on an oven-fired loaf. Ever.
My secret to bread-making is the nifty little trick called “delayed fermentation.” Basically, I let the yeast do all the work, so I don’t have to mess with the kneading and the folding and second rises and all the hard stuff that makes people not want to bake their own bread. Essentially, delayed fermentation occurs when you make your dough a day in advance, then let the yeast slowly digest the gluten in the flour at a slower pace due to cooler temperatures. Basically, the dough works itself. I still use my stand mixer since it makes my life even easier, but if you don’t have one no sweat - you can do this all by hand, as well.
Yield: 1 loaf
Allow for 24 hours prep time to delay-ferment the dough!
- 3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 7 g (2 1/4 tsp) SAF-Instant yeast OR
- 1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmesan
- 12 oz beer - ale works best
- 1 cup fresh basil, chopped roughly
- olive oil and extra flour for working the dough
- 24 hours in advance, combine flour, yeast, salt, and pepper in the bowl of your stand mixer or in a large work bowl and stir to combine. Using the dough hook attachment on medium low, slowly add beer and knead until the ingredients combine to make a sticky dough. If mixing by hand, use a sturdy spatula to add the beer to the dry goods and work into a sticky dough. Form into a ball and drizzle with a TBS olive oil in the bowl. Cover bowl with saran wrap and stash in fridge overnight.
- 1-2 hours before baking, remove dough from fridge to warm. The dough will have risen by about half in the fridge and will continue to rise at room temp. Once it’s doubled from its original size (or is somewhat close) fold in shredded parmesan and chopped basil by hand or use the dough hook attachment in the stand mixer. The dough will decrease dramatically as you work it (this is called “punching down”).
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and work into a round loaf. If not using a baking stone, line a cooking sheet with parchment, or grease the sheet with 1 TBS olive oil.
- Transfer the loaf to the cookie sheet or baking stone and slash the top of the loaf 2-3 times with a sharp knife to allow for expansion during cooking.
- Bake or 45 - 55 minutes - loaf will be golden on the top and edges. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before slicing.