The Mill Loaf

After having ordered and finally received my first bread baking books late last year, I am now excitedly working my way through them.

One of the first recipes I made was the "Mill Loaf" from Dan Lepard's "The art of handmade bread".  I really like Dan's technique for kneading ie knead for about 10-15 secs on oiled bench leave for about 10 mins or so to rest then repeat a few times then stretch is out to about 1/2 hour between kneads (or folds).  It sure beats standing kneading for 12-15 mins straight (I have no machine to help with the process so everything I do is by hand), but then you've got to have the time.  So generally I prepare my loaves in the evening, proof overnight in the fridge, then bake sometime when it suits the next day - sometimes after work, sometimes before, depending on how organized I am, and how late I was up preparing the loaves!

The instructions for shaping bread in Dan Lepards book were also really good. There are great diagrams and they have definitely improved my somewhat random technique of making a loaf look good!
 

I was in charge of making bread for a friends Christmas function (no pressure) and so I decided a plan was required as there was no room for stuff ups - and I hadn't made bread for 30 odd people before!  So the breads included the Mill Loaf, White leaven bread and 47% rye -  nice balance of wholemeal, white and rye sourdoughs.

The 47% rye I've made loads of times before (www.wildyeastblog.com) and its a fabulous recipe!  The other two are from Dan's book and I'd only made both of them once before. 

It would seem I didn't quite judge the size of my fermentation container for the starter correctly, as when I came home to make the dough, it had tried to escape, but it was a lot of starter.  The dough made some lovely bubbles after first ferment too!

As I mentioned above, the shaping techniques in Dan's book are great.  So once your dough is ready to shape, flatten the dough into a round shape and fold the top two "corners" into the centre, Then fold the centre piece down into the middle:

Rotate the dough and repeat with the other side:

I didn't take any photos of the next part.  But you just fold the top over to meet the bottom and seal the edge with the ball of your hand.  The gently roll it from the centre out to shape into batards - I did try to give the ends a bit of a point, but don't appear to be too hot at that just yet!  I let them proof in a floured cloth, tucked up in a plastic bag in the fridge overnight.

Then the next day was the bake-fest!  I think my poor small little oven was cooking for about 6 hours, but considering its so special-needs, it did a stella job!

It was amazing listening to the crusts crackling after taking the loaves out of the oven.  You could clearly see all the lovely airbubbles blisters across the surface - especially on the white loaf.  Wonderful! The white leaven loaf didn't look so great as the slashing wasn't very good, but they all sure tasted very fine and my friend was quite happy with the boulangerie services used for the day!

Happiness is baking bread!

Karen :o)

5 comments

These look delicious. I love 'The Mill Loaf' recipe. It is a great book. 

The breads oar great, I bet they are even more tastie.

 

I have a queastion for you.

 

I have never proofed bread overnight in the fridge, can you do that with any dough or only on some?

 

Love your name Bake-fest, I call my Bake-n-blog

I pretty much proof all mine in the fridge overnight.  I can't remember if I put my ciabatta in the fridge though ........ let me just check my diary ........... gotta find it, hang on a minute .............. can't find it in my diary, but I did write a blog about it as ciabatta was fun to make.  Yip I even put my ciabatta in the fridge overnight.

i find it fits in so much better with my daily routine to do it that way.  Feed up my starter before work, make the dough and shape the bread, pop it in the fridge overnight, then bake when you're ready the next day.  Saves spending all day in the kitchen, and if you're home in the evening, what better way to spend your time - making bread with glass of wine in hand!

K.

 I use the same timing as you with all my breads (including that essential wine-in-hand element). The overnight retard in the fridge is very convenient, and if anything the breads develop flavour through this slow extra fermentation period. The dough is very forgiving about the time spent retarding in the fridge, too. Whether overnight and taken out first thing next morning, or left in until later in the day, the outcome seems unaffected in my experience.

Also, I usually bake straight out of the fridge, without even allowing time for the dough to come to room temperature. This sounds counter-intuitive, but if you've done an adequate bulk-proof + post-shaping proof, it works fine. Actually, often I don't even do the post-shape proof. And an added bonus to baking straight out of the fridge is that often the bread develops a blistered crust during the bake.

With some breads, I've taken to retarding the dough in the fridge overnight after only a bulk proof, without shaping. Pre-shaping straight out of the fridge, resting for 20-30 mins, then shaping while the dough is still a bit stiff with the chill of the fridge, I find the dough easier to work with. With all but the wettest doughs, you also seem to avoid that spreading of the dough that often takes place at room temperature during the final proofing. 

Haven't tried doing the bulk fermentation in the fridge then shaping and proofing, but sounds good.  Might try that - thanks Ross!