Introduction: Peter Reinhart - Lean Bread

About: I do web programming for a living, but in my spare time, I'm an electronic hobbyist. I like to disassemble things just to see how they work. I love baking bread and the like. I like cooking all sort of food a…

I've been baking bread for many years now. Homemade bread is just another joy of life you can't miss. The smell and taste of a fresh loaf of bread is just unbeatable.

In this instructable, I'll explain my way of doing Peter Reinhard - Lean Bread. It's a bit less "formal" and the result is quite good!

This recipe can be found in his book : Artisan breads every day .

Step 1: Ingredients

Bread is not a complex thing to make. You only need 3 or 4 ingredients.

For this particular recipe, you'll need :

- 5 1/3 cups (24oz / 680g) unbleached bread flour
- 2 teaspoons (0.5oz / 14g) salt, or 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons (0.22oz / 6g) instant yeast
- 2 1/4 cups (18oz / 510g) lukewarm water (about 95F or 35C)

Make 2 large loaves.

Step 2: Tools

You will need some simple cooking tools to make bread.

- Large bowl
- Large wooded spoon
- Kitchen scale (IMPORTANT)
- Proofing basket & linen cloth (or an oiled bowl, bread pan)
- Scraper/cutter (bowl scrapers are perfect!)
- Spatula (optional)
- Baking stone (optional, replace with an upside down cookie pan)
- Pizza peel (optional, replace with an upside cookie pan)

If you're lucky enough to have a stand mixer, use it. You don't need one, it just makes it easier. Don't be afraid, I've mixed by hand for many years and it works just as good as the mixer.

Step 3: Water

Using your kitchen scale, measure the water. Use lukewarm water! If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast, if it is too cold, it will make mixing and proofing take a lot longer.

Step 4: Yeast

Still using your scale, add the yeast to the water. Mix a little just to dissolve the yeast. Let rest for 5-10 min.

Step 5: Flour and Salt

Weight the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Mix them together using a spoon.

Step 6: Mixing

Slowly add the flour and salt mixture to the water and yeast.

If mixing by hand, use a large wooden spoon and add a little at a time.

If using a stand mixer, use the lower speed and add a little at a time.

I've used the paddle attachment, but you could go directly with the dough hook.

Step 7: Kneading

When the dough is mostly mixed togueter, let it rest for 5-10 min. After the rest period, start kneading

If mixing by hand, continue with your spoon. You can also use a bowl scraper.

If mixing with a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook.

Knead for 5-10 min until you're satisfied with the dough.

This is a pretty wet dough, you won't get a smooth non tacky ball.

Step 8: Strech and Fold

On a (very) oiled surface, drop the dough mass

Oil your scraper and hands.

Using the scraper, pick a "corner" of the dough and fold it on itself.

Repeat this until the dough holds a decent shape.

When it feels less tacky, you can pick it up and form a nice round ball.

Peter Reinhart wrote to wait 10 min and repeat the stretch and fold process at least 4 times. Cover the dough with plastic wrap when resting.

I normally don't wait that long, but it helps a lot if you want more a round/spherical loaf instead of a wider "flat" disc.

Step 9: Proofing

Proofing your bread is the most important part of bread making. Without proofing, you would end up with a hard mass of cooked dough.

You have 2 choice here :

- Place the dough in a oiled bowl and let it proof at room temperature for 90min.
- Shape the dough as desired
- Place in a proofing basket lined with linen.
- Cover with damp cloth or plastic warp.
- Proof overnight in the fridge.
- Remove from the fridge 1 hour prior to baking.

- Place the dough in a oiled bowl and let proof overnight in the fridge.
- 2 hour prior to baking, remove from the fridge and shape as desired.
- Place in a proofing basket lined with linen.
- Cover with damp cloth or plastic warp.
- 1 hour prior to baking, remove the covering and let proof.

I've chosen method #1. I find it create a nicer crust and eliminate an enormous bowl in my fridge.

Step 10: Shaping

Shaping is the art of making the dough into its final shape. You can be creative; boule, batard, torpedo or loaf!

- Remove the dough from the proofing bowl.
- Separate in two equal part
- Oil your hand and shape the best you can.
- Place in a lined & floured proofing basket (or bowl...)

I've done a batard and a boule. You want to have plenty of flour on the linen cloth, otherwise, the dough will stick to it when it's time to cook.

While waiting for the final proofing, preheat your over to 500F or the maximum you feel comfortable with.

Step 11: Baking

This is a crucial part of making nice bread!

- Flour a pizza peel (or cookie pan).
- Flip your shaped dough onto the peel.
- Scores the dough using a sharp wet knife (Be creative!).
- Open oven door.
- Peter Reinhart says to mist the oven with some water to help steaming (helps the crust).
- Slide the dough on your hot baking stone (or cookie pan) using a quick wrist motion.
- Bake for 12 minutes.
- Rotate and bake for another 10-15 min until you have a golden brown crust.

As of me, for the sake of this instructable, I did a pretty bad job at scoring my boule. Try to score about 1/2 deep at a slight angle.

I've tried many time to mist or no to mist, do whatever fit you!

Step 12: Final Product

You're almost done!

- Remove the bread from the oven
- Cool on a cooling rack at least 1h before cutting.
- Eat!!!

Step 13: Get Creative!

Don't stop here! Explore the wonderful world of bread baking.

Try other flour type; wheat, rye, barley!
Try adding dried fruit (raisin, cranberry) or nuts into your dough!
Try some sweet bread (Brioche, croissant)!

The possibility are endless!

I hope you enjoyed reading me as much as I enjoy baking fresh bread every weeks.

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