Home Cooking


Slow bread?


Home Cooking 9

Slow bread?

carswell | Oct 10, 2009 07:59 AM

Friends have invited me over for bouillabaisse tomorrow evening. Along with the obligatory bottle of Bandol blanc, I'd like to take a homemade loaf of Jacques Collet's fennel and saffron bread designed specifically to accompany the dish. The ingredient list is simple: water, yeast, sugar, salt, ground fennel, saffron, white flour, semolina flour. With two risings -- first in the bowl, second as a ball on a baking sheet -- making the bread takes about 4 hours from start to finish.

Problem is, the bread tastes best soon after it's baked and I'm going to be dim summing from 10:30 a.m. until, quite possibly, 4 or 5 p.m. Reluctant to abandon the bread-making idea, I've begun wondering about proceeding as follows:
1. Make the dough this evening.
2. Place the bowl in the fridge and let it rise overnight. If insufficiently risen tomorrow morning, give it some time at room temperature before punching it down and forming the loaf.
3. Place the loaf on baking sheet in the fridge for the second rise. Go to dim sum. If, on my return, the loaf is insufficiently risen, give it some time at room temperature before baking.
4. Bake, cool slightly and head off to dinner.

Would that work? I've never tried anything similar but know that some professional bread bakers swear by slow rises. However, I believe they put their loaves in a cool room, not a fridge, for 24-36 hours, not 5-6. And I'm not sure they do a slow rise for the first rise.

Also, as per the recipe, during the one-hour second rise, the loaf is supposed to be covered by a tea towel. If I do a five- or six-hour second rise in the fridge, should I cover it with something more airtight (an inverted bowl, for example)?

Thanks for any guidance or other ideas you can provide.

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