I’ve been on a bread baking kick lately, and was testing out different sandwich bread recipes when fellow charcutepaloozian Scott recommended I try Abby Dodge’s Bake Together Boule. Bake Together is a monthly online get together in which people do their own interpretations of the recipe posted by Abby Dodge.
This boule recipe is outstanding in both simplicity and quality of the end product. If you have never made bread from scratch, this is a good recipe to try because it is straight forward and easy. You can add whatever extras you like: different cheeses, olives, fresh or dried herbs, seeds, etc.
The bread is great as is, barely smeared with butter. It is also sturdy enough to make rustic sandwiches or French toast. It is so delicious, that I’ve already made it three times: plain, with sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives, and in loaf form with Cheddar cheese, chives, and nigella seeds.
I would recommend you use instant yeast and not another type of yeast such as active-dry yeast or rapid rise/quick rise yeast. If possible purchase yeast labeled instant yeast. Why? Because yeasts labeled Rapid Rise, Fast Rising, and Quick Rise may not be the same as instant. These other types sometimes contain additives. With these types flavor will be less, and sometimes bread will have a raw-yeasty flavor and bubbly quality in the crumb. Instant yeast can be purchased online and it is far more economical than purchasing active dry yeast at the grocery store. It costs about $6 for a 1 lb bag.
If you must use active dry yeast, then increase the amount used by 20%. Keep in mind that active-dry yeast needs to be proofed before using. You do this by dissolving it in about ¼ water at 100°F-110°F and 1 teaspoon sugar. Make sure you deduct the amount of water and sugar used for proofing from the total amounts called for in the recipe.
For the Sun-dried Tomato-Kalamata Olive Boule:
• After step 3, I add ¼ cup finely sliced sun-dried tomatoes and ¼ cup quartered Kalamata olives, along with 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning.
• After step 6, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Cheddar Chive Nigella Seed Loaf:
• Substitute 1/3 cup semolina flour for 1/3 of the all purpose flour in the recipe
• After step 3, stretch out the dough to a rough square and sprinkle ¼ cup finely sliced chives and ½ cup cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces cut into ¼ inch cubes) on top. Roll up the square, and lightly knead the ingredients into the dough.
• For step 5, shape the dough into a rectangle, roll tightly, and place seam side down in a buttered 9 by 4 loaf pan.
• After step 6, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon nigella seeds on top right before baking.
Bake Together Peasant Boule by Abby Dodge
Visit Abby Dodge’s post for instructions with photographs.
(Makes 1 round loaf, 8-10 Servings)
• 3 1/3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose flour
• 1 packet (¼ ounce) instant yeast
• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 1/3 cups very warm water (between 115°F and 125°F degrees)
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. In a large bowl of electric stand mixer, whisk the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking powder. Clip the bowl into the mixer stand and fit the mixer with the dough hook.
2. Check that the water temperature registers about 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (In order for this type of yeast to grow, the liquid needs to be between 115 and 125 degrees.)
3. With mixer on medium-low speed, slowly pour the water into the flour and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bottom and sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes. Don’t venture too far away while it’s mixing as the mixer might dance around on the counter.
4. Scoop up the dough and shape it into a ball. Lightly grease (using some of the melted butter or spray release) the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and pop the dough, rounded side up, back into the bowl. Cover the top securely with plastic wrap. (I like to use a large rubber band to hold the plastic in place.) Let the covered dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
5. Using some of the melted butter, generously butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface (there’s no need to flour—the dough is soft but not sticky) and press to deflate it. Shape the dough into a 7-inch-wide round and place it, smooth side up, in the center of the prepared pan. Generously brush the top and sides with some of the melted butter. You may not need all the butter.
6. Let the dough rise (no need to cover it) in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 25 minutes. It will fill the pan.
7. About 15 minutes before the dough is ready to bake, position a rack in the middle of the oven and the oven to 375°F. When the dough has risen to about 2 inches above the edge of the pan, bake until the boule is well browned and sounds hollow when tapped about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and tip the baked bread onto a rack and remove the pan. Set it right side up and let cool completely.