Bread. Warm, crusty, buttery, soft, golden brown, nutty packages of pure bliss. I'm a little obsessed.
I love cooking and eating food more than pretty much anything except my kids. But I could never make bread. I can't make cookies either- but in my defense I didn't go to BYU so I missed out on a lot of practice baking for my fellow FHE brothers.
Anyway... I have an obsession with Harmons grocery store. They make the BEST bread of any grocery store hands down, and it is on par or better than most restaurants too. As long as I have been addicted to Harmons, I have wanted to learn the secret to their bread. Why could they manage to make bread so light and airy and moist (😬 yes, I said moist, don't hate me) on the inside, but still golden brown and crispy on the outside?? I mean it's all just cooked in an oven right? I had an oven... what was my problem?
Well, I figured it out you guys! Harmon's had a bread making class, and this is the recipe and technique straight from that class. Thank me later!
If you follow these steps exactly, you'll get the best bread you've ever had at home 😋
***PLEASE make this recipe without any substitutions first. This dough is likely a lot thinner consistency than dough you are used to making. Resist the urge to add more flour!! You'll dry it out. Also, USE A KITCHEN SCALE. The recipe will turn out the same every time if you use a scale. Most recipes that use cups have a range of flour due to the fact that everyone measures flour differently each time. The actual volume of flour changes dramatically with each scoop. Using volume measurements with a scale eliminates any guess work. Bread works best when you add all ingredients at once before kneading. Adding extra flour or water once the kneading process has begun ruins the bread's consistency as it is hard to incorporate everything evenly.
**P.S. This bread cooks on a pizza stone or other baking stone. I don't know how other baking methods turn out.
Ok, here we go.
THIS RECIPE IS FOR A 7 QT MIXER. If you have a smaller mixer, HALVE the recipe.
First of all, this recipe takes time. You make a poolish (a type of starter) 8-12 hours before mixing together the remaining dough ingredients. I have started this as early as 6 am for hot bread at around 6pm. If you make the starter at night, you'll want to begin making the bread in the morning by about 11 am.
To make the poolish, combine:
438g Bread Flour ( I use King Arthur Artisan Bread Flour, it really adds great flavor and texture)
438g Water (You'll want water between 90 and 110 degrees to get the yeast going without killing it)
.4g Yeast (I use SAF Red Instant Yeast. You need instant yeast no matter what brand you choose)
Stir it up with a fork until all the flour is moistened and leave it lightly covered for at least 8 hrs or overnight. Resist the urge to pull the plastic wrap tight over the bowl. You want a little air flow without drying it out.
You'll know the poolish is done when you can smell a faint alcohol smell, and it is very loose and bubbly.
When you are ready to start making the bread, combine (do not sprinkle- mix in the yeast until it is dissolved):
464g Water (90-110 degrees again.)
Let that mixture sit for a couple minutes while you are measuring out the dry ingredients.
While the yeast and water sits, mix:
888g Bread Flour
7g Malt Powder (I use King Arthur Flour Diastatic Malt Powder. DO NOT SKIP THIS!!! This is what gives the bread the depth of flavor, golden brown crust, and helps with the crispy crust.)
Add the poolish, water/yeast mixture, and flour mixture to a 7qt stand mixer. If you have forgotten to halve the recipe, before adding everything to the mixer, divide each into 2 equal parts using your kitchen scale and do the kneading in two batches.
Now the fun part begins!
Using the paddle attachment, mix everything on low until barely combined. This is to avoid piles of flour all over your kitchen.
Once combined, switch to the dough hook and mix on speed 3 for 4 minutes.
Increase the speed to 7 and mix for 6 minutes.
At this point, your dough should be very elastic, pass the windowpane test (stretch a small piece of dough between your fingers, you should be able to see through it before it tears), and be very wet.
Take a large bowl or rising container and coat it lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough into the bowl and coat the dough ball with oil from the bowl. Cover the bowl lightly and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm spot.
When rising dough, I like to put it on my stove and heat the oven to 350 or so. That makes a nice warm place for the dough to rise quickly.
At 45 minutes you will fold the dough. Fold the left and right sides into the middle, and then the top and bottom into the middle. Flip the entire ball over, cover the bowl, and let rise for 30 minutes.
Now you will begin to preshape the dough. Split the dough into how ever many parts you want. I like to keep my loaves about half size for easy transfer to my oven, so I usually make around 10 loaves with a full recipe. Take each piece and form it gently into a rough cylinder shape. If you have a couche, use that to help the bread rise vertically instead of horizontally. If you don't have a couche, a linen cloth will work great. I haven't made this recipe without one, so I can't say what will happen if you don't use one. Don't judge my shaping! I am still working on getting the perfect shape. And the little baby loaves were made by my 2 year old :)
Let the preshapen dough rest for 20 minutes. Then form each piece into the final baguette form and let rise for 45 minutes. At this time, heat the oven to 450. This bread bakes best on a pizza stone, so let that heat up during this time as well.
Right before baking, slash each loaf a few times. You can use a Lame, scissors, or a sharp knife. Just remember to slice it at a 45 degree angle.
When you are all ready to transfer the loaves to the oven, fill up a 1 quart glass measuring cup with ice and throw it in the bottom of your oven. Quickly transfer as many loaves as you can fit directly onto the pizza stone and shut the oven door. You will want to do this as quick as possible to keep the steam in the oven. The steam from the ice is what develops the crispy yet chewy crust.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Take the loaves out of the oven, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and enjoy!