Prep 5 mins
Cook 10 mins
Since both of my kids are in college, most nights it is just DH and I for dinner, so I decided to buy the book "Small -Batch Baking" by Debby Maugans Nakos. We love fresh baked bread, but find the recipes make too much for us, so this makes two mini loaves. These are soft on the inside and with a crispy crust. Because these have no fat, they don't save well, so best served same day of baking. NOTE: This takes many hours of rising, not a good recipe for the weekdays if working, but great for a weekend or if you don't work. The long rising times really allow for the flavor development. You will need to allow at least 5 hours rising time.
- 3⁄4 cup bread flour, plus more as needed and for dusting work surface (plus 2 Tablespoons)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt (I use fine sea salt)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fast rise yeast
- olive oil, for greasing the bowl
- Place the bread flour, salt, and yeast in a food processor, and process for 3 seconds to blend. With the machine running, pour 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons water through the feed tub; process until the dough holds together, about 20 seconds. The dough should be a sticky mass, and it should appear difficult to knead by hand. If the dough is too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, processing for 5 seconds after each addition.
- Lightly grease a medium-size mixing bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it has nearly doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours.
- Punch the dough down and let it rise again until nearly doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
- Sprinkle a cutting board or work surface with a little flour, place the dough on it, and cut the dough into 2 pieces. Shape the pieces into balls, sprinkling them with a little flour if necessary to make them easier to handle. Place the balls of dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle a little flour over each round (to keep the plastic wrap from sticking), and cover them lightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough balls rise until nearly doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. To make a crisp crust, fill a clean spray bottle with water and spritz the inside of the oven with water just before you slide the bread into the oven.
- Bake the bread rounds until golden and crusty, about 10 minutes. Fremove the baking sheet from the oven or, If you like a crustier loaf, leave the bread in the oven with the door closed for 5 minutes after you have turned off the oven.
- Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool. Serve it warm or at room temperature.
Hooray for mini loaves! Baked good recipes do not always shrink down well so was thrilled to find this one and have it turn out so well. I made as written using the recommend spray bottle of water in the oven as we like crispy crust, but after the 10 cook time and the 5 minutes with the oven off they looked more like the brown and serve rolls you see in the store. So just before dinner reheated the oven to 400 F, gave the loaves a quick light shot of PAM and popped back in the oven to both warm and brown. The end result was a nice warm loaf with a nice crispy chew crust (which we loved). This is a recipe I will be making again. Thanks for the post.
Even with a long rising time, the dough was quite shallow, I suspect because there was no sugar for the yeast to feed on. That being said, I shaped these into baguette shapes before the final rise and did end up with two crusty breadsticks, which were fine in themselves, albeit a bit flat.
This bread is superb quality. It's soft and delicious inside and with that great chewy crust. That said , I would have liked a bit more browning but didn't want to over bake it, it comes out very blond (perhaps because of the steaming that also creates that wonderful crust?). This is in no way difficult and I fully appreciate the artistry here. I'm very glad that I tried it but I can't fully convince myself that a day spent with the long rising times is really worth two buns. There is no doubt that it's a full 5 star recipe though. :D