The full recipe is available in the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
What's a "gluten-cloak"? Just imagine a warm blanket being pulled around you on a cold night. Or, for the more technically inclined: What you are trying to do here is to add enough flour to the surface so it can be handled and the protein strands in the surface can be aligned, creating a resilient "cloak" around the mass of wet, barely kneaded dough. Visualize a cloak being pulled around the dough, so that the entire ball is surrounded by a skin. Resist the temptation to get rid of all stickiness by adding too much flour. Adding large amounts of flour prevents the bread from achieving a finished crumb with the typical artisanal "custard" (see page 19 of the book).
Lazy sourdough shortcut: When your dough bucket is finally empty, don't wash it! Immediately re-mix another batch in the same container. In addition to saving the cleanup step, the aged dough stuck to the sides of the container will give your new batch a head start on sourdough flavor. Just scrape it down and it will hydrate and incorporate into the new dough.
Amaze your friends with the "6-3-3-13" rule: If you want to store enough for eight one-pound loaves, here's a simple mnemonic for the recipe: 6, 3, 3, and 13. It's 6 cups water, 3 tablespoons salt, 3 tablespoons yeast, and then add 13 cups of flour. Store in a 10-quart lidded container. That's it. It will amaze your friends when you do this in their homes without a recipe—but tell them to buy this book anyway!
This page created January 2009
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