Lucky baker that I am, I just spent three most instructive days baking with Jeff Hamelman at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Central Vermont (more about this experience in another post) and the rest of the week visiting a French baker who makes extraordinary bread in Northern Vermont (more about him and his bakery in yet another post).
When I came home, one of the first thing I did (after dividing my carload of bread between family and friends) was to feed the starter (which had been waiting in the fridge) and set it to warm up in the proofbox. I fed it again twice the next day and on the morning after, it was bubbling away and ready to work.
I wanted to showcase the deliciously tangy raw apple cider I had brought back from Green Wind Farm (which also makes the creamiest whole-milk yogurt and a very flavorful maple syrup) and drawing inspiration from Jeff’s Normandy Apple Bread in Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes, I made this very simple bread. If you don’t have diced dried apples (I had bought mine at the King Arthur store), you can slow-roast the apple slices in the oven at 250 F/120C as Jeff does: it would probably boost the flavor of the cider even more.
For a slightly sweeter bread, a splash of boiled cider could be added.
333 g white whole wheat flour
333 g unbleached all-purpose flour
100 g water (I needed almost 100g on top of that)
227 g fresh apple cider
22 g salt
267 g mature liquid starter (100% hydration)
100 g diced dried apples (quick-soaked in hot water and immediately drained – I used that water in the dough as part of the total water), cooled
- Mix flour, cider and half of the water with the levain in the bowl of the mixer until incorporated (add water as needed to hydrate the flour)
- Let rest for 20 minutes (autolyse)
- Add the salt and mix until dough consistency is medium-soft (adding water as needed) and the gluten starts to develop
- Add the diced dried apples
- Mix until incorporated
- Transfer to an oil-sprayed dough bucket, cover and set to ferment in a warm place
- After one hour, give the dough a fold
- Ferment one more hour and transfer to a lightly floured work surface
- Divide in two equal parts (about 750 g each) and shape each part into a rough cylinder
- Let rest. covered, for 20 minutes
- Pre-heat the oven to 480 degrees F/250 C, after placing a baking stone on the middle shelf with an empty metal recipient on the shelf immediately under
- Shape each piece of dough as a batard and set to proof in a floured basket for about one hour in a warmish place (the dough is ready when a finger poke leaves an indentation that takes 1 or 2 seconds to spring back).
- Invert the two baskets onto a semolina-dusted parchment paper set on a baking sheet and gently brush excess flour off the loaves
- Score each loaf straight down the middle with a baker’s lame or a serrated knife
- Pour one cup of water in the metal recipient placed under the baking stone and set the two loaves (still on the parchment paper) on the stone
- Thoroughly mist the oven with water
- Close the oven door and lower the temperature to 450 F/232 C
- Bake for 35 minutes
- After 35 minutes, check the color of the loaves. If already well browned, tent a piece of foil over them to prevent burning and keep baking for another 5 to 10 minutes
- Turn off the oven and let the loaves rest in it with the door ajar for another 10 minutes
- Set to cool on a wire rack.