My third bread in the MellowBakers.com group bake, the Rustic Bread from Jeffrey Hamelman’s wonderful book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes is a pre-fermented loaf and has a combination of white bread, rye and whole wheat flours. Although it takes about 22 hours from start to finish, the time actually spent doing anything besides ‘waiting’ is really not that different from other breads.
The pre-ferment is designed to allow a portion of the dough to ferment and age, bringing out a lot of the wheat’s flavour without needing the whole batch of dough to sit about for 12-16 hours. I pretty much went from start to finish doing everything as expected, except for a little extra hand kneading after the first rough mix to add a small handful of flour as the dough was just a little too sticky.
As I noted, this bread used a pre-ferment so let’s start with a look at this step.