It wasn’t until the very recent past that I heard about Josey Baker. Josey, who happens to have a bakery (he swears that’s his real name!), is a baker by almost accident. He says that one day a friend of his stopped by his apartment in San Francisco, where he used to be a teacher, and left him some sourdough starter as a thanks for having him over for a few days. His friend also left behind a set of simple instructions that Josey studied for several days before trying to bake.
After making his first loaf, he was addicted to baking. So much so that he quit his job and opened a bakery in San Francisco. Now he has a book, a mill, and a bakery. He lives and breathes bread. The thing I appreciate most about his approach is the simplicity he tries to insert into the process. There’s almost a zen-like feel to his videos, books, and social media posts.
I decided to get his book, Josey Baker Bread: Get Baking and found that it offers a set of lessons. Unlike many other bread books filled with history and random recipes, this book is almost like a workbook where recipes build on one another. I like this and think you will too. His breads start out very simply, and his first recipe (or lesson) is how to make a tasty straight dough bread. His twist on the classic is to let it sit in the fridge for a LONG time. He says up to a week is fine but I just let mine sit for about 24 hours. The things I did differently than he is that I used a food processor to get my mixing done in short order and used olive oil to coat the loaf. It’s been a busy week at Make Bread HQ and I was running low on energy and found that the food proc is a great mixer for single loaf batches. Mixed and ready to bulk in less than 4 minutes.
Items helpful for making this loaf
Notes before baking. This dough is slightly wet at 75% hydration but once you knead it properly (or buzz it in the food processor!) it’s very manageable and workable. It becomes nice and soft, is easily shaped, and feels soft to the touch. Wet your hands to transfer it and if you’re working with it in a bowl so that the dough won’t stick to your hands.
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- In the food processor (or bowl), add the flour, salt, and yeast. Mix to combine.
- Add warm water (about 90˚F) and pulse for 30 seconds or knead for about 5 minutes by hand.
- Cover and let it sit for 2-3 hours. The bread will grow considerably!
- On a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough and degas it, and form it in to a log. To form the log, make a rectangular shape with the dough. Fold the left side over about 2/3 of the way to the right, then fold the right side about 2/3 of the way to the left. Then fold the top down half way and the bottom up halfway. Gently roll it out a little bit to elongate.
- Spray your bread pan with non-stick spray.
- Place your dough, seam side down, in the pan and lightly cover with olive or cooking oil.
- Cover with aluminum foil and tent it up so that the dough doesn’t risk touching the foil.
- Place in the fridge overnight.
- The next day (or, according to Josey, up to 4 days later) remove from the fridge about an hour before baking. You can see how the dough grew and filled in the pan!
- Heat up your oven to 475˚F while the loaf acclimates to room temperature.
- Place the loaf pan with your foil tent in the hot oven. After 20 minutes, remove the tent and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the top is dark brown.
- This is the loaf ready to go in the oven:
- Remove from heat and let it cool about 20 minutes before eating.
The bread came out blistery and golden brown thanks to the foil and the oil you spread on top to prevent it sticking to the foil. It’s really an airy crumb too!
This basic loaf is light in crumb and has a nice crust. It lacks in flavor complexity due to its straight dough approach. The next lesson in Josey’s book calls for a pre-ferment which adds a layer of sophistication to the loaf. I’ll make a follow up post soon to compare the two but this is definitely a good bread to start off your day!
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