Monday, January 24, 2011
Another Great Loaf
I thought I'd share with all of you my latest bread obsession. For the past couple of weeks, I've been baking a country loaf that starts with an ale and yeast poolish. The recipe for this bread can be found in Crust: Bread to Get Your Teeth Into by Richard Bertinet. The preparation is fairly start forward but the results are absolutely amazing.
I'd bought Crust several years ago but never got around to trying any recipes from the book. Mr. Bertinet makes he breads using fresh yeast - something I've read a great deal about but have never been able to find at the grocery store. As a result, his book had been gathering a mighty layer of dust for quite sometime. That is until my next door neighbor mentioned that she had an extra block of fresh yeast in her fridge that I could have. (Score!) Apparently she gets it from a European market in Boston. Finally, I was in business.
What I love about the recipes in Crust is that they all utilize a relatively small amount of yeast. (Mr. Bertinet also has an interesting way of kneading dough, which he demonstrates on a CD that comes with the book.) While the resting times are generally longer compared to many recipes that call for active dry or rapid rise yeast, I've been making bread long enough to know that you usually end up with a superior loaf in turns of flavor, structure and shelf life by allowing the dough to rise slowly. This particular country loaf is a prime example of that. I start the ferment just before I head to bed, then mix and knead the dough when I wake up and by noon it's on our lunch plates. It's fantastic straight out of the oven but also stores well in the freezer and makes for excellent toast.
This weekend, I made some Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) using this bread. (I'm salivating just thinking about them.) While there are countless variations on the type of meat to use inside a banh mi, most call for a light smear of homemade mayonnaise, sliced cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro and some pickled carrots. You can also spread a layer of pate and add some pickled daikon radish if you like, but most importantly, the bread has to be fresh (and preferably French). This time around, I stuffed our sandwiches with some homemade Chinese roast pork (char siu), which I'll have to post a recipe for along with the pickled carrots one of these days. Until then, borrow Crust from the library and make this bread!