I came across a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. While the name seemed to me like a marketing gimmick, I thought I would give some of the recipes a try. The basic premise of the book is to make a large amount of dough all at once and keep the dough refrigerated until you are ready to bake it. By baking small loaves every day or every other day you will always have fresh baked bread with minimal effort.
I adapted the base recipe from the book slightly. It seemed like the thing to do.
2.75 cups of white all-purpose flour 0.5 cups of rye flour 0.75 T of yeast (1 packet) 0.75 T of kosher salt 1.5 cups of water (I have found that you can either get it from your tap or thaw ice and bring it to room temperature. The end result seems to be the same. Condensing steam may also work.)
Pour the water (relatively warm water, about 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 310 degrees Kelvin) into the mixer. Add the salt and yeast. Turn on the mixer and add all the flour. Mix it until the flour is all mixed in. According to the book, kneading is not needed. Please do not try to be “healthy” and leave out the salt or lower the amount. Bread without salt is a tragedy.
Allow the dough to rise for at least 2 hours. I set mine on the counter and went out. About 3 hours later, I came home and stuck it in the fridge for couple hours. Then it was time to bake.
Rip off about a pound of dough and form it into a ball pulling the outsides down toward the bottom and tucking it under. Let this sit and rest for about 40 minutes.
20 minutes into the rest, start your oven. If you are using a solar oven or a traditional wood fired oven you are on your own. I used an electric oven and preheated it to 450 degrees. The baking stone was in the oven while it was preheating.
After the oven is heated, slide the dough onto the stone and add about a cup of water to a pan placed in the oven to create steam. This will allow a thicker crust to form than would otherwise. The steam keeps the outer layer of dough from crusting too soon.
Bake for about 30 minutes. I took mine out at 30 minutes but probably should have left it for 5 more. I prefer a deeper brown crust.
Overall, this was probably the finest loaf of bread I have ever baked. It did not taste like traditional rye bread because I did not add caraway seeds. It had the texture and taste of a very nice, whole grain bread. The best part is I have enough dough left in the fridge to make another loaf tomorrow night. The dough will continue to improve in taste as it ages.
Two days later...
I took the rest of the dough out of the ice box. It had risen just a bit. It was still a very wet, sticky dough (as it should be using this method).
I baked it in the same way as before with a couple of exceptions. I left it in for just a bit longer to try to get a darker crust. I enjoyed it but the crust was too tough for some in my company. I also slashed one side of the dough deeper than the other side. This caused the mis-shapen thing you see below. Overall, I would say the method of keeping dough until you are ready to use it worked as advertised. I made a second batch of dough tonight of this exact same recipe.