Bread is fascinating. Simple and complicated, Straightforward and nuanced. Culturally defined and defining cultures. It would appear that only the dog has been a human companion longer than bread. There are almost as many recipes for bread as there are opinions on anchors, and many are more honestly tendered.
I have been experimenting with recipes that we can take along with us. They have to take into account the limitations of boat-dom. Ultimately for us those limitations may be only a matter of heat. The recipe I like best needs 500°F for 10 minutes and then drops to 425°F to finish. I’m not sure the Force 10 oven will do this so there may still be adjustments to make.
This “artisanal” bread makes excellent toast and provides a vehicle for all kinds of savory additions before baking such as sun-dried tomatoes, cheddar cheese, olive tapenade, basil and pecans. Consequently a slice or two can provide a “meal at the wheel” for a watch-stander.
In a sauce pan or mixing bowl, combine three cups less three tablespoons of bread* flour with 3 tablespoons of graham wheat flour. Add one and one half teaspoons of sea salt. Add the same amount of dry (activated) yeast (with a distant stale date). Whisk together. [These can all be vacuum packed ahead of time, however, I would leave the yeast out if this is done and add it after the package is opened.]
To the dry ingredients add one and one half cups plus one to two [you will have to experiment, it is somewhat flour dependent] tablespoons of cool (preferably carbon filtered)** water. Mix with a strong spoon until there are no dry ingredients in the bottom of the container. Cover with a vented lid or plastic wrap with a few punctures in it.
Let sit un-molested for 12-18 hours (yes, 12-18). If you are underway I recommend this be secured on a gimbaled stove top.
The dough mass will triple to quadruple in volume depending on temperatures.
Encourage the dough out of the container onto a floured surface with a spoon/floured fingers. This mass is seriously sticky so you need to be well floured. Gently extend the mass into a one by three rectangle and fold the outer thirds over the center third. Rotate it 90 degrees and repeat the process. Do it again. Now form the dough into a ball (boule) and set it aside covered with a floured cloth or paper toweling to rise for two hours. It should double again.
The oven, with a pizza stone or quarry tile on the cooking rack, needs to pre-heat for about 10 minutes beyond reaching the desired temperature. Before placing the risen bread dough in the oven, slash the top diagonally three or four times and spray the entire ball with cold*** water from a food safe sprayer/mister.
Cook for 10 minutes at 500° then lower to 425° for another 20 minutes. The dough will nearly double in height before crusting so consider this when setting oven rack heights.
Cool the loaf on a wire rack (no pan or sil-pat under it) for at least an hour.
Keeps a week, but we have yet to see a loaf survive long enough for that to be an issue.
* One can use all purpose flour but the resulting bread is a bit rougher. One can also increase the graham (whole) wheat flour but this also roughens the bread. We have tried a variety of combinations and they are all good, just different.
**Yeast likes pure water, preferably without the halogens chlorine, fluorine, etc. There can be enough of these chemicals in some water supplies (chlorine shocked water tanks) to seriously interfere with the yeast.
***When a mass of dough is placed in a hot oven, it rapidly skins and then crusts over. This contains the expansion of the trapped gases in the dough and the result is a dense “doughy” bread. Spraying the dough with water weakens the surface layer of the dough and causes it to take longer to skin and crust. Hence a lighter, airier texture. Spraying it with cold water lengthens the time further (the water has to heat up before it evaporates) and even lighter textures result. There are cooking techniques that call for a baking pan of ice cubes under the stones, but on a boat, the spraying is less tedious, and as far as I can tell the spray generates equivalent results. Don’t be tempted to spray the dough once it is in the oven, any solid water of significance hitting the pizza stone or tile will crack it–I have firsthand experience.