bread with summer savory

summer savory bread

I realized my delicious soups needed some crostini because those Club crackers are just not cutting it, good as they are, I must class it up a little. It's so easy to do and second nature at this point, I have no excuse not to. But, occasionally I don't feel like messing around with sourdough starters, although there they sit neglected.

Techniques developed from handling sourdough applied to ordinary single-cell commercial yeast bread. This bread is a carelessly tossed together fortified brioche. Who am I kidding? Everything I do is careless, if I were careful I'd be somebody else. There is no actual recipe. It has milk, egg, butter, and flax oil added on impulse, so its crumb will be more dense and closed than ordinary flour/water/salt baguette type bread.

* half cup milk
* one cup water
* 1/4 teaspoon yeast. That's a tiny amount. The dough was left on the counter overnight with its meager amount of yeast left alone to gleefully multiply in an ideal environment, save for the salt, and to rise on its own accord without any intervention, stirring, or additional water/flour or new yeast. This would be considered a biga or poolash, the aged portion of ordinary dough, except there is no second stage addition here. It's simply a very slowly developed dough. How's that for carelessness, huh? Now that takes confidence, I tell you wot.
* 1 large egg
* 2 tablespoons butter (approximately)
* 6 little gelatin capsules of flax oil stabbed with a pick and squirted out into the dough.
* about two teaspoons kosher salt flakes.
* about two tablespoons summer savory (I have this in the freezer and I really do need to clear it out)
* enough flour to form a stiff sponge, aprox. 2.5 cups

This is the dough started at 10:00 PM, and looked at about 9:00 AM the next morning.

risen bread dough

bread dough dumped onto work surface

Divide and conquer, that's what I say. I needed the total amount to fit in my two cloches designed for chicken and not for bread.

Stretched, gently but firmly and decisively without tearing. This redistributes the yeast. Redistributing the yeast is important to bread makers and even more important to yeast cells because it repositions haploid cells to proximity with other haploid cells with sufficient propinquity to allow their unification, their marriage if you like, enabling them to carry on with diploid mitosis. At least that's how I visualize what's going on in there -- a yeast orgy. Not that they would care individually, deprived of this they would carry on anyway without it through haploid meiosis. But all you really need to know is that stretching, stirring, mixing it up as it were, is beneficial to the development of yeast doughs.

bread dough divided and stretched

The stretched dough is folded in thirds, then stretched again and folded in thirds again. This can be done once, twice, or as much as it takes to get a good stretch on, or to add either water or flour to loosen or stiffen the dough to desired wetness. This is a chance to correct. Baking within a closed clay cloche, a wetter than normal dough is called for which allows for maximum expansion before the crust is set, thus wider more open crumb finally than would occur with a stiffer dryer dough.

folded stretched dough, stretched and folded again

Throughout all this we've been kind to our dough. No penalties for unnecessary roughness. This dough was stiffer at first than I would prefer so I brushed the surface of the stretched dough with water delivered with my hands moistened from the tap. Then folded, stretched again, dampened again, folded again, so that the mass became satisfactorily loosened. I was looking for a floppy dough ball (that would not work very well without a clay cloche or a closed pot or casserole dish).

shaped loaves

Gently but decisively shaped into loaves. Covered (inverted plastic storage container) allowed to relax and rise a little while the oven and clay cloches are heated to full-on HOT. Hazardous, I know, but no pussy-footing around here. Bake 30 min. closed, 10 min. uncovered.

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