Monday, February 19, 2018

Bread Number 97: Not a Challah Disaster

Confession #1: I made a major mistake and put all of the sponge into the dough instead of following the recipe and saving some.

Complaint #1: I don't like recipes that try to help me with extra starter to save. Just tell me how to make only as much sponge (or other pre-dough) as I need to make the bread at hand. I can take care of my own starter, thank you very much.

Happy day! Made an actual great tasting sourdough challah. But back to confession #1, the sponge mishap meant that the proportions were a bit off. Actually feeling great sense of accomplishment and hope for recipe when I follow most of actual directions.

Bread recipe adapted from Maggie Glezer’s My Sourdough Challah in A Blessing of Bread. I haven't reviewed this book yet because (a) my first attempt included a major deviation from the recipe, and (b) I have not read any other pages. I was so excited to see a true sourdough challah recipe that I did not wait for anything else.

Recipe and screw up

Sponge

35g starter
110g water
135g bread flour

I added an extra 30 grams of water because the sponge did not hold together at all with the recommended amount. Covered and let sit.

I let the sponge sit in a reasonably warm kitchen, maybe 70-72 degrees, for 12 hours. This was fine as the sponge was relatively dense, rather than wet. (We had a nice winter thaw; what a pleasure.) I awoke to a wet, beautifully bubbly starter.

Dough

3 eggs
60g water
56g oil
60g sugar
400g bread flour

Back to confession #1 and dough experience

What can you say about a recipe that takes more than a half hour longer to do a few simple steps than you think it will? You say it’s the first time I'm making this recipe. The dough was a sticky mess, really wet.  Did I say sticking to my fingers so I had about as much dough on them as was in the actual mass of dough?

I ended up adding about 40 grams of extra bread flour. I don’t know the exact amount because my hands were so sticky and full of goo that I could not possibly measure. Did I knead? I'm not sure what the process is called with something more akin to goop than dough.

Eureka moment and not in a good way: Oh fuck, I did it again. I added all of the starter instead of all but 50 grams. No wonder the dough was so wet. Shit. And it took a half an hour longer than expected, plus kitchen a mess, plus bleeding into work time on telework day. Serenity now.

Assumption at the moment

I clearly ruined this challah because proportions are off. Braided strands will blend. I’ll either throw this away, which I even considered doing before going any further, or I will make this in a loaf pan, maybe braided in a loaf pan. After recommended two hour wait not looking or feeling like a challah dough. Will try again.

Did the recommended two-hour wait, the dough covered and in a bowl.

I then divided the dough into three and braided them. Not sticky with extra flour on my hands and on the dough and on the kitchen counter. I was generous with the flour because I thought I had ruined the challah anyway. Oiled a loaf pan and placed the dough in it. Covered.

Supposed to sit for five hours, but  I let sit for 5 2/3 hours after a couple of dent tests.

Baking

Preheat oven for one hour at 325 degrees. Almost every challah recipe, including this one, says 350. Sorry, that temperature produces overdone challahs. We like less well done challahs. I felt confident in departing from the recipe on this one. I baked at 325 for 37 minutes.

Due to my own mistake, braids somewhat disappeared, but not completely, as I had predicted. After bread out of oven, spouse immediately sends photo to offspring about my treasonous deviation from usual recipe.

So much better than expected

Taste is actually pretty good; looks beautiful. Spouse impressed. Does not taste sour at all. Despite allegations of treason, spouse managed to eat quite a bit of this challah and it got eaten when I offered it to dinner guests about 24 hours later. In fact, compliments and comment of "this doesn't taste sour at all."

Not a disaster. Second try soon, without making same mistake, I hope. Crumb not bad either for what looked like a disaster in the making.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Basic Recipe Better Liberated from Refrigeration

For far too long I remained lazy, having permitted myself to be lulled by a "foolproof" sourdough recipe that I adjusted with different flours, self-righteously ground in my beautiful German mill that looks lovely on the kitchen counter, but makes tons of loud noise. Finally, after months, if not a year or so, of suspicion that my refrigerator-stored sourdough starter and my refrigerator-enabled, basic-recipe-adjusted breads were getting more and more bland, I read a bread newsletter piece that articulated the message that refrigeration was not part of the process of early and fine-tuned doughs and offered solutions for modern bakers, albeit none that involved the convenience of refrigeration.

I put a link to this nice post from Mike's Weekly Baking Tips in my last post, but I am including it again because it describes so well where refrigeration leads without judging too much a propensity for easy storage and cramming baking bread into one's full life rather than allowing the bread making to set the agenda with its own sense of timing and readiness.

After two successful breads, ...

Sourdough starter changes: I took my starter out of the refrigerator - except during a business trip (or other forays from home). This is easy in the winter, especially a cold winter, because I have only fed the starter every two days. But it was warmer last night and needed to be fed this time in 24 hours. I will not boldly claim that I will remain an out-of-the-refrigerator and on-the-counter saint in the summer when twice, or maybe three, feedings a day will be demanded.

Because I hate to waste starter, I am doing a slow build during the week and using most of it for the weekly bread. I'll be making more this week as I found this morning - yes! - a sourdough challah recipe that I will try during next week's holiday weekend. I do not measure amounts; I go for texture, usually firmness, so that I can go a little longer between feedings.

The starter is happier. It bubbles, practically bursts with a sense of airiness.

I did get rid of its sibling, the whole wheat starter, because it wasn't loving out-of-the-fridge life and it kept going bad super quickly and I could never quite manage to get out all of the nasty stuff in the jar.

And the breads

I did an overnight sponge each time, the second time for 16 hours after - great achievement - putting together a quite firm sponge. I then only needed a rise of 4-5 hours for the dough.

Sponge
100 grams starter (50 percent hydration as standard; make adjustments to sponge ingredient amounts if your starter is appreciably off on this)
200 grams water
200 grams bread or whole grain flour

Mix, cover, and let sit for at least eight hours.

To adjust for a longer fermentation period, I decrease the amount of starter, this time to 60 grams, but I have gone as low as 10. I then proportionately increase the amounts of water and flour so that the total mass of starter is the same as the basic recipe. Similarly, if my starter is very firm or quite wet, I also adjust for that.

Dough
300 grams whole grain or bread flour (I usually do all whole grain, generally wheat, sometimes with 10-20 percent rye, or spelt in any amount)
100-135 grams water (On the high side for whole grains and closer to the minimum the more bread flour is used)
11 grams salt
Additions: 8 grams of caraway or flax seeds, or 1 gram, a very small handful, of fresh rosemary

Except for the water, mix all of the dough ingredients together. Throw those dry dough ingredients on top of the sponge, add the water, and mix thoroughly. At some point, the mixing goes better with hands, but I do not have a KitchenAid or other dough mixer.

Cover the dough bowl and let sit for 15-30 minutes. Do three stretch and folds at similar intervals and cover the dough in between. After the last stretch and fold, let sit for four to five hours. This was in a warm-ish winter kitchen and might be shorter in a summer kitchen. The dough is ready for the next step when you push your finger in and the dough stays indented.

Baking preparation

Shape the dough and put on parchment paper, which will reduce anxiety when transferring dough into a hot oven. I wet the counter and my hands with water for shaping and avoidance of sticking. Cover the dough and let sit for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees or 485 degrees for a dough with rye (see rye bread posts for the recommended decreases in temperature as you bake). I preheat with a baking stone and the top of a la cloche, or you can preheat with a pan on the bottom and fill it with a cup of water or ice right after placing the dough in the oven.

I preheat for an hour.

Baking

Before baking, I sprinkle water on the dough, sprinkled with sesame seeds this time, and cut an X slash on top.

Bake at 500 for 25 minutes, then reduce to 485 degrees for 17 minutes. Nailed it perfectly and patted myself on the back. Does not happen every time.


Taste - OMG, great; so much better than when poor starter was left in cold confinement in the fridge. Life is good on the kitchen counter, I guess.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Bread Number 96: Yet Another Challah Disaster

I am thinking the core of this disaster is my failure to convert a yeasted challah recipe into a sourdough recipe. I followed two similar recipes and neither went well. I kneaded and kneaded by hand; I added extra flour because the doughs were way too sticky; and yes, I did the math so that the contents of the starter was accounted for in the calculation of the flour and water totals in the dough. This is clearly a voodoo-doll-type of conspiracy by my family members to prevent the replacement of their beloved challah with an identical challah that is made with sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast.

For hundreds of years, at least, challahs were made with starters because no commercial yeast existed. So somewhere in my quest, I am missing a significant piece of information pertaining either to ingredients or to methods - or to both.

Grumble, grumble, grumble - a considering of escalating to an adult equivalent of a toddler's temper tantrum - except that with my adult wisdom I am able to appreciate how unimportant, even to me, is this failure and that, as the granddaughter of someone who survived many baseball seasons of failed World Series, the best lesson is to regroup and try again rather than to throw in the towel and consider this a personal and a permanent failing.

[Off-topic: Maybe, as the granddaughter of a diehard Brooklyn Dodgers fan, that is not exactly the right analogy. I did cry when finally my beloved Brooklyn got a major sports team (the Nets, who play basketball) after many decades and at the exact spot where the Dodgers should have moved - instead of awful suburban, auto-oriented, Los Angeles.]

Screw that ... had a little tantrum a year later

After a year of not making any new breads - the above challah disaster occurred in January 2017 - I am finally getting back into experimentation. This weekend, I made a dough so bad that I threw it in the compost before baking. I was trying to adapt a yeasted rye bread recipe from The Hot Bread Kitchen for a totally naturally leavened rye bread. Really, I wasn't disciplined; I didn't manipulate the dough as needed and then I let it sit far too long for the first rise. Probably did not help that I was trying to do this alone with a broken arm.

My tantrum was not about the abysmal dough, but a whiny complaint that bread books (okay, almost) always only include commercial yeast recipes and no alternatives for breads only made with starters. So there I am making calculations, while trying to enjoy a normal weekend, and knowing that the timing will be completely different.

The key, actually, is to commit to being home and monitoring the dough. And to waiting until the arm is sufficiently healed to knead, stretch and fold, or whatever with two good arms.

Sorry for the long absence

Why the long absence? A mix of a friend's long illness and death, which was very depressing because he and his wife both died young after suffering terribly from cancer in their last months; getting lazy and making only breads I make well and that everyone at home enjoys; and then the, I hope, blip of the broken arm. Need mojo, commitment, and patience, but first to go back and retrace some steps to make doughs that require watchful waiting and better sourdough starter maintenance. Ah yes, got lazy about that as well and now keeping the starters out on the counter and feeding them more often.

Here is a nice post from Mike's Weekly Baking Tips that goes into detail about the tradeoff of convenience versus quality of refrigerating a starter.

Last word/last tantrum: I hate counting that challah attempt because it came out so terribly. Stomp, stomp, stomp. Time to shut up, stop whining and get back to bread.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bread Number 95: 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

It is true that I am unable to follow anyone else's recipe except for my sister's challah recipe. Bread #95 bread is roughly the Reinhart recipe of a 100 percent whole wheat sandwich bread, but with the significant differences of using sourdough starter and changing the timing due to real-life needs to leave the house and to sleep occasionally. I've now made it twice and it had lovely oven spring each time. The first try was immediately frozen for offspring to eat healthy-bread-from-Mom.

I managed to make multiple breads for the offspring before they left the nest following their winter vacations. I have also discovered another local bread soulmate, who has furnished me with some challah recipes, one sourdough, and what looks like a nice rye.

Not a quick bread
This bread is at least a two-day affair because it involves a soaker, a biga, and running out to the store for yogurt when you find that you ran out. A biga is basically a dough-like pre-dough, more solid than a sponge, and a soaker allows flour to sit in a moistened state, with some salt, anywhere from overnight to a few days. This is similar to an autolyse, except for the much longer duration and the salt. I used a full-fat yogurt with part of the layer of cream that sits on top. It's also grass-fed and I am sure the happy cows were well brought up and were educated at highly-esteemed cow/cattle institutions of higher bovine learning. (You need to watch the early Portlandia episode to get that joke completely.)

Ingredients and instructions

Soaker
226g whole wheat flour
5g salt
198g yogurt (mine was not watery)

Mix well and do not add water, milk, or more yogurt until finished mixing. This pre-dough will appear dry, but do not worry, the liquid is most likely sufficient. Cover bowl after mixing and leave on counter. I left mine out for almost nine hours, but you have up to 24 according to Reinhart's recipe.

Biga
229g whole wheat flour
100g starter (mine is part whole wheat at this point)
160g water

Mix and cover. The instructions call for a prolonged refrigeration, but I wanted it to proceed that evening, so I only put it in the fridge for about five hours and then left it on the counter in a warm kitchen for another two.

Dough
Soaker
Biga
14g coconut oil - melted (Trust me, I did not melt it the first time and the second try went much better.)
10g honey
6g salt

I mixed and then let the dough sit for five minutes, at which point I kneaded for two minutes and did a stretch and fold. I have little patience for kneading. Perhaps I have to listen to better music or have something to watch on TV. I did three more stretch and folds at half hour intervals. Then, the hour being late, I covered the dough and put it in the fridge for 23 hours.

Baking preparation
FYI: This bread gets baked at a rather low temperature and takes relatively long to bake. Preheat the oven to only 425 degrees. I preheated with the oblong la cloche inside so that I could get a longer, thinner shape, though not nearly a baguette.

I also have been trying putting rice flour inside BEFORE preheating. This accomplishes two things, but heed the warning that follows.
1. Less heat loss when putting in dough.
2. Less time standing in front of hot oven.

BUT - here is the warning:
When opening the la cloche, stand back because the slightly baked or burnt rice flour can sometimes be smoky and cause your eyes to tear. This did not happen with the oven on this relatively low temperature, but I have experienced that when the oven is hotter.

Sprinkle the counter with rice flour. Right before baking, take the dough out of the fridge and shape into an oblong loaf on top of the rice flour counter area. This is very easy with a cold dough, plus the rice flour gives more anti-sticking protection for your dough. If you have ever been unable to get a dough out of a la cloche, a Dutch oven, or other contraption, you know what a desperate situation it is to look at a beautifully risen loaf and be afraid it will be ruined because it is stuck to whatever you baked it in.

Sprinkle the top of the dough with water. I did not use seeds on top, but go ahead, it would be great. Do a few slashes, maybe four or five, and then put that baby inside the la cloche or whatever and bake.

Baking and voila
After putting dough in, reduce oven temperature immediately to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes and turn around la cloche. Do NOT open it. Let that hot air and steam stay inside. Total baking time 50 minutes. Perfect. I love it when I guess the timing exactly right. So proud.

Beautiful oven spring! Taste: Mixed voting here. I really like this one; it's a good basic bread either for sandwiches (because the yogurt softens the dough and makes the bread easy to cut) or for just some bread and butter. Perfectly lovely addition to the bread repertoire. However, a spoiled family member, whose tastes run to a strong preference for rye breads and now breads with rosemary (with a decided dislike for spelt), found this bread eh, as in average, okay, but definitely edible as he has managed to voluntarily eat it a number of times and without complaint.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Miraculous Remake: Bread Number 76 = Tons of Water + Anxiety

Now there are two proofs that a divine presence exists in the universe: (1) I have parallel parked (seldom, but it has happened), and (2) a glob of a dough turned into an amazing bread.

I remade bread #76 with changes, making it larger and with some fresh rosemary. I have been working for so long with my standard recipe, with slight variations, that I had forgotten what it is like to babysit a dough and not know when it will be ready. Felt like the parent of a newborn.

Autolyse
501g whole wheat flour
523g water

Mix, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

Dough
autolyse
100g starter
1g fresh rosemary
11g salt
104 percent hydration makes for a dough, but a wet one.

Let rest for 20 minutes and tried to do two stretch and folds, each 20 minutes apart. Actually ended up kneading for about a minute each time. Let rest to rise, covered, of course.

Anxiety and time pressure
At 3.5 hours I did a slight mix/knead because some  liquid had pooled slightly around the edges. At 6.66 hours, the volume of the dough was looking good, much expanded, but not popping of  a few large bubbles - think pizza, not sponge or starter bubbles.

Math skills off: I thought I had nine hours to let dough rest, but I had only seven, and dough was being prepared for New Year's Eve dinner party for which husband was whipping up a storm of impressive appetizers, soup, and many dishes. On the plus side, the dough smells heavenly with the freshly ground wheat flour mixed in with the rosemary. Love that fresh rosemary right off the backyard plant. You have to love a plant that thrives without any maintenance whatsoever.

So, at 6.8 hours, did a stretch and fold, though not sure at 104 percent hydration, with wet hands and a goopy, though cohesive, dough, whether one can actually call what I did a stretch and fold.

Moving on blindly
Now we go into uncharted territory.

Toping ingredients:
rice flour
sesame seeds
ground flaxseed (not flaxseed meal)

Start with rice flour and sprinkle generously into a bowl. Rice flour is between you and sticky disaster of a dough that will not come out of the bowl. Then follow with sesame seeds and ground flaxseed. These will add to taste and look lovely. Cover bowl with plastic, beeswax, wet towel, or, in my case, a shower cap that gets reused a million times.

Promise myself NOT to touch dough for 1.25 hours.

Baking
Because dough is quite wet, I decide to use the Dutch oven.  AND sprinkle generously with rice flour before putting Dutch oven in the oven. Why? I have never tried this before. Usually I do my sprinkling, if any, of rice flour over a million-degree oven just before placing the dough inside and the Dutch oven gets particularly hot and scary. But I'm in an experimental, though anxious, mood. I know the rice flour will burn, but maybe it will work and save a good 30 seconds of accumulated heat when I plop that dough in the awesomely hot Dutch oven in an hour.

Preheat oven to 480 degrees with Dutch oven - and its rice flour - inside. Wait for an hour.

1. Grammatical tense agreement, as you see, has gone out the window.
2. More anxiety to follow.

I am anxious because I did the rice flour thing in the dough bowl instead of spraying or wiping it with oil. I could have put on sesame seeds and flaxseeds just before baking. Will the dough stick to the bowl like the gloopy mess it could be and not even make it into the oven? What was I thinking? And will the burned rice flour at the bottom of the Dutch oven ruin whatever chances of a good bread?

For the hour of anxiety I do KP duty and attempt to keep up with cleaning of bowls, measuring cups, and other accoutrements of husband's prolific cooking. This will end up making no difference as the next morning I clean up for three hours, which had been preceded by three minutes of wondering how to start and thoughts of never again having a clean kitchen. I must say that the water in the sink the next morning was about as dirty and greasy as an environmentally toxic disaster area. 

In theory
Experimentation, innovation, all wonderful  in theory, but not safe and when compared to the recipe followers of this world with their known outcomes and their accomplishments of set goals time after time, one can doubt. In fact, doubt is part of all creativity and seeking really. Certainty keeps one in the same hole. Enough philosophy; back to bread.

I was imagining a messy disaster and felt I was merely going through the motions to see how badly this bread would turn out. It was a mess of a dough - no shape. It could not be placed on the counter, shaped, slashes done on top. No, I plopped it, in the purest sense of the term, quite unglamorously into the bottom - really bottom corner, if a circular-shaped bottom can have  a corner - of the Dutch oven. I quickly sprinkled some more ground flaxseed and sesame seeds on top, put the top on the Dutch oven, and prayed, but only briefly because this was not going to turn out well.

Baking results - must peek
Baking time: 45 minutes at 480 degrees, the whole time covered with top of Dutch oven so could not peek.

OMG! Miracle! Show tunes practically blasting in the air, though only I am hearing them. A gorgeous, deep brown bread with perfectly sprinkled organic, artisanal stuff on top. This unattractive, unshapen dough was actually the ugly duckling of a later incredible Cinderella of a bread, a perfect dinner party ooh-it's-beautiful-and-delicious-amazing bread. Resorting to mixing fairy tale metaphors inappropriately. Cinderella was always beautiful; she just needed time off, nicer clothes, and definitely a shower.

Kept eating it the next few days as the husband enjoyed his frozen bagels over the winter break. More bread for me. Incredible and must make again. Perhaps anxiety was key ingredient.

Divine bread making spirit in the universe - only half kidding
Received so much more than I deserved unless bread deity believes, like me, that worrying produces good results. Perhaps a kindred spirit. Deity of bread making clearly was smiling upon me with favor. I felt blessed and relieved that dinner party bread did not turn out to be punishment for experimenting. Grace, gratitude, and selfishness.

Taste: Fantastic, amazing, great. Do not want to share.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Bread Number 94 - Spelt With Spelt Starter

I like spelt and I like it better when the bread is 100 percent spelt rather than partly spelt. I'm not that way with rye or whole wheat. I am flexible with those. So this time, I went all the way and made a new starter. This took a couple of extra days, but I learned something about spelt. Spelt flour requires less water than wheat in both the starter and the dough. I found myself adding spelt flour a few times.

Only 10 or 20 grams of regular starter will jumpstart the new one without having to go through the effort and anxiety of creating a starter from scratch. In the evening, I added to the bit of starter to about 50g of water and 50g of spelt flour and the spelt starter was happy in the morning, though a bit on the wet side.

Sponge
133g spelt starter
186g slept flour
186g water

Mix, cover, and put in fridge overnight. Forgot to take it out in the morning and left it in the fridge for 25 hours. Took it out in the evening and got rid of excess liquid and added 10g spelt flour. Left out the sponge for eight hours. Then put sponge back in fridge to make dough that evening.  Life gets in the way of bread.

Dough
302g spelt flour
11g salt
110g water

Mix and mix ingredients with sponge until all doughy and uniform. I did three stretch and folds at intervals of 15 to 30 minutes. I then covered the dough and put it in the fridge for 24 hours.

Baking
Preheated oblong la cloche in oven at 475 degrees for one hour. Took out dough and shaped it for oblong bread. Did a few slashes on top. Rolled bottom of dough in rice flour and sprinkled rice flour - generous amount - onto bottom - especially corners - of oblong la cloche.

Baking time a surprising 43 minutes. Usually breads take less time for that shape. I thought the taste was great. The spouse's review was eh okay. Translation: Better than normal bakery bread, but nothing extraordinary. He has become too accustomed to a regular diet of homemade bread; plus, he is a rye man and nothing else pleases him quite like a good rye. I still love the spelt.

Bread Number 93: Rosemary Is Name of the Game

OMG! I would put one gram of rosemary - about half a handful for my small hands - in every bread after this. What a flavor boost and such a nice aroma. Plus, the stuff grows totally wild even in the cold. Who knew? I was just experimenting and I am generally against all ingredients beyond the basics of flour, water, natural leavening culture, and salt, with the exception of caraway seeds, sesame seeds, or maybe flaxseed meal or wheat bran. 


I made this bread twice and it was a big hit both times. If it had not been for the gentle prodding not to overdo a good thing, I might never leave out rosemary again. Spectacular!

Ingredients and instructions for a  possibly three-day bread

Day 1 - Sponge
100g starter
210 to 220g water (I used more than 200 because my starter was stiff)
190 to 200g bread flour (same as the water, but used less when my starter had a relatively low moisture level)

Mix and cover. I usually leave out this sponge for eight hours in a warm kitchen. For a cool kitchen, in the high 50s to 60s Fahrenheit, I can go 10 to 12 hours, which equals to a whole work day. To truly get convenience, mix the sponge in the evening, put it in the fridge, and take it out to rest in the room temperature for an entire work day.

Day 2 - Dough
The sponge, having rested on the kitchen counter in the room temperature for eight to 12 hours, should be nice and bubbly, exuberant looking, in fact. When you see this, you have a window of an hour or two to complete the mixing of the dough, depending on how bubbly the sponge is and how warm the room is. I am always more careful in the hot weather, but this is a very friendly, flexible bread to make. Don't be anxious.

Dough
Leave sponge in its bowl and, in a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. When they are mixed thoroughly, add them to the sponge. Then it will be time to mix in the water.

50 to 75g farro flour
200 to 220 whole wheat flour
0 to 50g white flour
Make sure the flour adds up to 300g
11g salt
1g fresh rosemary, cut into 1/8 to 1/3 inch pieces and washed
102 to 115g water

With the flour mix, it depends on what I have in the house, how late it is, and whether I want a lighter or heavier bread.

Mix all of the dry ingredients, then put in them in the sponge. Add water and mix thoroughly, about five to 10 minutes by hand.

Then do four stretch and folds at 15 to 30-minute intervals. I write a checklist of 1-4 on a piece of paper so that I do not lose count. The dough should get progressively less fragile and more cohesive with each stretch. I am usually rushing or in the middle of other things, so I generally do 15 or 20 minutes.

Cover the dough bowl and refrigerate for 24 to 30 hours. I usually go for 24, but with a similar bread, I was not up for midnight baking, so I left it overnight and baked instead at 6 a.m. A routine, amazing bread resulted. I weighed late night baking against a 6 a.m. wakeup to fire up the oven.

Day 3 - Baking prep and oven time
What I take out to prepare for baking:
My super-hot-oven mitts
Lame (French name for a super-sharp instrument, but you can use a bread knife, for slashing lines in the dough before baking)
Tiny water bowl
Pastry brush
Food thermometer

Preheat oven to 500 degrees for one hour. I preheat with the baking stone and top of la cloche in the oven. These need to be very hot to be ready for the dough. I used the oblong la cloche the second time, which family members prefer, because they think (and they are correct) it is easier to cut an oblong bread than a boule. With the oblong la cloche, I preheat the oven with both the top and bottom.
 
I made the first one as a boule  and the second as an oblong bread. Either way, I quickly shaped the dough into either a round  or oblong mass, then sprinkled generously with water, and made a cross-slash on top of the middle of the dough.

For putting the dough actually into the oven, I either do it with wet hands and accept that the bottom of the dough will be a little imperfect, or I sprinkle rice flour onto a baking peel (also used for pizzas) and then slide the dough onto the baking stone. Then cover with top of la cloche. I have found that my breads do better this way than with the ice or water technique.

Rice flour
For the oblong breads, I ALWAYS put a thin layer of rice flour in the hot - be careful - bottom of the oblong la cloche. This will prevent sticking and it is so much more pleasant to slide the bread out when it is ready than to use a knife to wedge (is that a verb?) it out, hoping that you do not separate a chunk of the bread while doing so.

For the two versions I baked at 500 for 20 minutes, then reduced the temperature to 475. Total baking time was 45 minutes for the boule and 35 minutes for the oblong bread.

Thermometer
It is nice to have a food thermometer and know that the bread is done inside. I usually take it out at 195 to 203 degrees. Another factor is whether the thermometer probe is wet or gunky - a technical term - with moist dough when you pull it out. It gives me confidence because often breads appear on the outside to be done quite a while (even eight minutes) before they are ready inside.

Taste? Spectacular! The little bit of rosemary adds such a nice scent and taste. You will feel so professional and you might want to save this bread just for yourself. Let others have a share and smile when you get compliments.