Jul 21, 2019 Last Updated 6:31 AM, Nov 9, 2017

Apple Cider Bread

Flavorful loaf with Apple Cider Levain.

Apple cider levain (mix 8-12 hours before final dough):
3.56 oz/101 g organic bread flour
3.2 oz/91 g water
1.48 oz/42 g apple cider
.7 oz/20 g liquid levain (52%)

Combine all ingredients and mix on low speed until smooth dough forms.  Place the dough in a clean 1-quart container and cover it. Let the apple cider levain stand to ferment at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. It may have already risen and begun to deflate and it will be riddled with air pockets.

Final dough:
17.6 oz/500 g organic bread flour
6.6 oz/188 g water
6.6 oz/188 g apple cider
8.9 oz/254 g Apple Cider Levain (from above)
.45 oz/13 g sea salt
1.9 oz/55 g cranberries

1. Mix together the flour, water and cider and until a smooth dough forms. Allow to sit 20 minutes (autolyse).
2. Add Apple Cider Levain and salt.  Mix on low 2 minutes to incorporate  levain. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 7 to 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and very elastic.  Add the cranberries and blend until fully incorporated.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, clear 2-quart container with a lid. With masking tape, mark the container at the level the dough will reach when it has doubled in volume.  Cover and leave it to rise at room temperature (70 – 75°F) for 1 hour. It will inflate only slightly.
4. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured counter.  With floured hands, lift the top edge of the dough and fold it so that it lands in the center of the mass. Lift the bottom edge and fold it so that it meets the top.  In one fluid motion, slide both hands underneath the dough, turn it over so the fold is underneath, and slip it back into the container.  Cover the dough and let it rise until it expands into a dome twice its original size, reaching the masking-tape mark, 2 to 3 hours.  It will feel firm but springy and less sticky.
5. Heavily dust a banneton or a colander lined with kitchen towel with flour.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured countertop.  Flour your hands and shape it into a round by tucking the edges of the dough underneath the bulk, as if you are making a bed, to shape a rough round.  Place your hands on either side of the round and move them in tight circles as you pull the dough toward you.  If the dough sticks to the counter, lightly dust the counter with flour again.  These simultaneous movements will pull any rough bits under the ball and create a taut “skin” around it.  Don’t worry about making it perfectly round, but be sure to pinch the bottom edges to seal.  Place the round, pinched side up, in the banneton or colander, dust it with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
6. Let the dough stand at room temperature until it is pillowy and has doubled in size, 2-3 hours.  When you press your fingertip into the dough, the indentations will spring back slowly.
7. About 1 hour before baking, place a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven and a cast-iron skillet on the lower rack.  Preheat the oven to 470°F.
8. Line a baker’s peel or rimless baking sheet with parchment paper.  Uncover the loaf and tip it out onto the peel or sheet, guiding it with one hand for a soft landing.  With a single-edged razor blade or serrated knife, make 4 straight slashes about 1 inch from the edge to form a square-shaped frame.  Do not connect the score marks or the crust will rupture where they intersect.
9. Slide the loaf onto a baking stone.  Place ½ cup of ice cubes in the skillet to produce steam.  Bake until the crust is walnut brown, 40 – 50 minutes.  A large loaf like this needs to be fully baked, especially if you want a good crust, so don’t hesitate to add an extra few minutes of baking time if necessary.
10. Slide the peel or the rimless baking sheet under the parchment paper to remove the loaf from the oven slide the loaf, still on the parchment, onto a wire rack. Cool the loaf completely, about 2 hours, before slicing.  To serve, halve the loaf, then cut slices from each half.  Store it cut side down on a plate or cutting board.

Daniel Leader
Bread Alone Bakery
Owners: Daniel Leader and Sharon Burns-Leader
3962 Route 28, Boiceville,
NY 12412
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