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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Water-Proofed Bread {Bread Baking Babes}

Water-Proofed Bread |
Water-PROOFED. Not to be confused with water proof. If you were carrying a loaf of this bread unwrapped and found yourself caught in a downpour without an umbrella, it would not survive.

However, if you happened to be making the dough in India and were caught in a monsoon, I bet you could wrap the dough and set it in the monsoon, it would rise beautifully. Because it's usually pretty darn hot during monsoon season, right? It might blow away, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Anyway. When Elle announced that our Bread Baking Babes adventure for this month involved making a beautiful egg-and-butter-enriched dough, and then putting it into a bowl of water to rise, I was intrigued to say the least. So, of course, I waited until the day before reveal day to make it. Typical.

But that part didn't matter, because it's a dough that's easily made over the course of a morning. As with other enriched breads (think Brioche), you find yourself working with a sticky dough; extra flour and a bench scraper are your best friends when it comes meeting this task.
Water-Proofed Bread |
The process of actually setting the dough, wrapped in a towel, into a bowl of warm water and watching it go from sinking to floating, is pretty cool. I don't know the exact reasoning behind proofing this way. Perhaps it cuts down on time. Perhaps it's just to prove that it can be done. Either way, once you turn the dough out of the wet towel, it is beautiful and puffy, and you can just tell that it's going to make beautiful bread.

Will I make water-proofed bread again? Maybe just to show somebody that it can be done. Or if I'm in a super-duper hurry. But not as a regular path of action. It is a fun thing to have under your belt, though.

Water-Proofed Bread
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by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 30 minutes (+ 75 minutes unattended)
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Keywords: bake bread nut-free soy-free vegetarian butter eggs flour

Ingredients (2 loaves)
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (100-115° F)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 ounces (1 stick | 1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 589 grams (20.9 ounces | ~4-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour + more as needed for work surface and towel
Combine yeast, water, and the teaspoon of sugar in a large bowl and stir. Let sit for 5 minutes. Heat the milk with the butter and remaining sugar until lukewarm; add to the yeast mixture (I put all in a bowl and microwaved for 60-90 seconds, then stirred to melt most of the butter). Beat in the eggs and salt. Gradually add in the flour. Dough will be somewhat sticky. Knead until the dough becomes a bit firmer - but it will still be slack and fairly sticky. Continue to knead until dough can somewhat take form of a ball.

Spread a large, clean tea towel on the counter and dust it liberally with flour. Plop the ball of dough in the center. Sprinkle the dough with more flour. Fold the towel over the dough to wrap it loosely. You can tie it with some string if you like, but I didn't.

Fill a very large bowl with lukewarm water, leaving an inch or two of head room. Gently pick up your dough package and set it in the water. It should sink. Let proof until package rises to the top of the water and floats, ~35 minutes.
Water-Proofed Bread dough |
Generously flour your work surface again. Lift the package from the water and let the excess water drip back in. Place one hand underneath the package to hold it (it will fell very full and pillowy), then open one flap and squeeze it out. Repeat with opposite flap. Move package over work surface, then open third flap. Arrange in your hands so that you can peel back the final flap and gently roll the dough out of the towel and onto the prepared work surface. The dough will pull and stretch into long gluten strands, but should wind up fairly cleanly onto your work surface. If you have a lot of dough left on the towel, just scrape it off. If it's just a very thin film (like in the photo), I wouldn't worry about it.

Flour the top of the dough, then cut into two equal pieces. Using floured hands and a floured bench scraper, roll each half into a loaf and place into 2 generously buttered loaf pans (~8-1/2" x 4-1/2"). Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until the dough rise slightly above the tops of the pans (or until almost doubled in bulk), ~45-50 minutes.
Water-Proofed Bread dough |
Preheat the oven to 375° F during the last 15-20 minutes of rise time.

Brush the tops of the dough with cold water. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when rapped with your knuckles. Carefully tip the loaves from the pans and place directly on the oven rack (no pans) to brown the bottom a bit more and crisp the crusts, ~3 minutes.

Remove and place on wire racks to cool.

If you know me, you know that I like to use my bread machine to do my bread dough mixing in a lot of instances. The process is much like using a stand-mixer, but I find it easier to clean, plus it's easier to lug up from my basement (my kitchen has no room to hold either). I simply add the ingredients in in the order listed, and let it do the work. It keeps my hands and my counters clean. I used my bread machine to mix this one up, and dumped the dough out once I was satisfied with the kneading process. You can do it in a stand mixer, or by hand, as well.

Use cold water to scrub and release any dough stuck on the towel that you used for proofing (in the kitchen sink) - it makes the dough sieze up and crumble off easier. Then add it to the regular wash.

-adapted from Beard on Bread 
Water-Proofed Bread |
The Bread Baking Babes (current dozen) are:

The Bread Baking Buddies are: YOU!

So which Babe is the hosting kitchen this month?  That would be Elle at Feeding my Enthusiasms, if you'd like to join in, simply make Water-Proofed Bread (yes, you may adapt) - and then send Elle your link (info in her announcement post).  Submissions are due by March 29th.  Once you've posted, you'll receive a Buddy badge for baking along.  I hope you'll join us this month!

I am sharing this post with Yeastspotting and BYOB - Il Cestino del Pane