The Master Recipe: White Boule

Moderate
Makes 4 (1 lb.) loaves
Vegetarian
Vegan
Ingredients: 

1 1/2 tbsp. (2 pkgs.) granulated yeast

3 cups lukewarm water (about 100°)

1 - 1 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt

6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (2 lbs.), plus extra

- pizza peel

- cornmeal

- baking stone

- 1 cup hot water

Instructions: 

In 5 qt. bowl, mix yeast, 3 cups water and salt; add flour. Using a wooden spoon, mix until ingredients are uniformly moist (it is not necessary to knead). Cover with a lid (not airtight); let rise at room temperature until dough begins to collapse, about 2 hrs., no more than 5 hrs. The dough can be baked after rising or refrigerated covered (not airtight) up to 14 days. The dough is easier to work with after at least 3 hrs. refrigeration.

To Shape: Liberally sprinkle pizza peel with cornmeal. Uncover dough, sprinkling surface with flour; pull up and cut off a grapefruit-sized piece (about 1 lb.) using a serrated knife. Cover and refrigerate the remaining dough. Using your hands and enough flour to prevent sticking, create a smooth ball by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating by quarter-turns. (The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping should take less than a minute.) Place dough on pizza peel; let rest uncovered 40 min. (The bread may not rise much.)

To Bake: Twenty minutes before baking, set baking stone on center rack of oven; remove any upper racks. Place broiler pan on a rack below baking stone or on oven floor; preheat to 450°. Dust top of rested dough liberally with flour; using a serrated knife, slash a 1/4" deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into top. Slide loaf onto baking stone; quickly, carefully pour hot water into broiler tray. Close oven door; bake until crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch (about 30 min.). Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack.

Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: the Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking (Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin's Press, Nov 2007), courtesy of Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois.

Good to Know:

  • This recipe can be made with parchment paper instead of cornmeal and baking sheets instead of the pizza peel and baking stone.
  • A longer resting time (up to 90 min.) produces a more open crumb; cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying if resting longer than 40 min.