I decided to start with what they call "The Master Recipe": Boule. The recipe I am posting makes 4 1 pound loaves. Once again I was left speechless when I realized just how simple making this bread actually was.
I will start by saying that you will need some kind of container to keep the dough in the refrigerator. This particular recipe says to use a 5 quart bowl. You will need to keep it covered, so if the bowl happens to have a lid that would be great. You do not want an air tight container because the dough will rise. The book talks about using a food grade bucket for storage and I am seriously considering buying one. After making this bread I am convinced that I WILL be keeping bread dough in my house at all times and this will be a small investment that will be very useful. I am sure there are things I will leave out of this post that you may want to know. If you really like this recipe I highly recommend buying the book. I learned so much already and I haven't even read a quarter of the book yet!
Here is what you need for the bread:
3 cups lukewarm water (not hot!)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with scoop and sweep method. (do not pack the flour!)
cornmeal for the pizza peel (if you don't have one you can use a thin wooden cutting board)
The water should be warm but not hot! It should not burn your hands. Make it just slightly warmer than body temperature; about 100 degrees. Pour the water in a large bowl (about 5 quart capacity).
Add the yeast and salt to the water. Stir to dissolve.
Mix in the flour. You do NOT need to knead the dough. Measure the flour and dump it all in at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until it is incorporated and no dry spots remain. At some point you will want to use your hands. Wet them thoroughly and work the dough gently with your hands to combined any areas that look dry. Make sure you use wet hands!
Allow the dough to rise. Cover with a lid or you can use a nice sealing wrap like "press and seal". The first time you try this method you should refrigerate the dough overnight or at least three hours. Subsequent batches of dough should rise at room temperature for at least 2 hours up to a maximum of 5 hours. Fully refrigerated dough is not as sticky and is much easier to work with.
Once the dough is risen, you are ready to bake! Sprinkle the pizza peel (or cutting board) with cornmeal and set aside. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the board.
Dust the top of the dough (still in the bowl) with a little flour.
Pull the dough up with your hands and cut off a piece about the size of a grapefruit and cut the a serrated knife.
Dust your hands with flour to make sure it doesn't stick. Gently fold the dough under itself to create a smooth surface. You will have a smooth round ball of dough. That entire process should not take longer than 30-60 seconds.
Place the dough on the cornmeal coated pizza peel and allow to rest for 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered during this time.
Twenty minutes before the end of the rest period, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. You should always put the baking stone in the oven when you turn the oven on and leave it in the while you preheat the oven. You want it screaming hot when the dough hits it. Place the stone on the middle rack with a broiler tray on a rack under it (we will talk about this in a minute).
Dust and slash the top of the bread. Sprinkle a little flour on the top of the dough and cut slits in the top of the loaf. You can make a "cross" or you can do a tic tac toe board pattern or three to four long slashes. It should be about 1/4 inch deep.
After the oven has preheated for 20 minutes and the dough has rested a total of 40 minutes you are ready to bake the bread. Slide the dough off the board and onto the stone. This should be very easy with the cornmeal on the board. Be VERY careful. You would not want to burn yourself. Pull the rack out if you have to in order to ensure you don't burn yourself getting the dough on the stone. As soon as the dough is on the stone you want to pour about a cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and immediately close the oven door. This will trap the steam in the oven during the baking process. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch.