I’ve mentioned many times in many different places that Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio changed my life. The ratio given for bread in that book is 5:3 flour to water, which represents a hydration rate of 60%.
It’s not a huge change, but I’ve started using 3:2 (67% hydration) for many of my workhorse bread recipes, notably pizza dough (which I’ve already posted here), pita dough (which I hope to post shortly), and a standby I’m calling pan bread. I find that this ratio, when kneaded properly, makes super-tacky but workable dough that ultimately yields a much better crumb.
In the spirit of Ratio, I love to tailor the flavours in this pan bread to fit how it will be served. If it’s accompanying split-pea soup I add herbs-salée. If it’s being served with pasta I might take it in the direction of traditional focaccia and add fresh rosemary. My most common additions are my two favourite dried herbs: savoury and oregano.
I make this bread to accompany simple dinners of soup or salad. It also makes a great sandwich bread, if you cut it into rectangles then cut each in half horizontally.
- 8 g active dry yeast
- 240 g warm water
- 2 tsp olive oil or melted lard
- 360 g all-purpose flour (feel free to substitute up to 25% of this with whole wheat or specialties flours like spelt)
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- optional: 1 tsp dried savoury, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- extra oil or melted lard
- Scale yeast into small bowl. Pour warm water over top so that all the yeast starts to hydrate. Add oil or melted fat.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer scale the flour(s), salt, and dried herbs if you are going that route. Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients.
- Once the yeast is hydrated, add the liquid mixture to the well in the dry ingredients. Use the dough hook attachment to mix on low speed until a single dough-ball has formed.
- Mix with dough hook on speed 6 for 2 minutes.
- Lightly flour your fingers and work bench and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead briefly by hand until you have a very smooth, round dough-ball.
- Oil or grease a large bowl. Transfer the dough-ball to the bowl. Cover with plastic and let stand at a warm room temperature to rise.
- Oil or grease an 8″ x 8″ casserole. Line with parchment.
- After the dough has doubled in size (60-90 minutes), stretch the dough out into a rectangle roughly 8″ x 24″. Fold one third of the dough into the middle, then the other, so that you have a square that is just under 8″ x 8″. Transfer this precious square to the prepared casserole.
- Cover with plastic and let rise 30 minutes.
- De-gas the dough by gently dimpling the surface with your finger tips. Apply more oil and finishing salt to the top of the bread. Cover and let proof another 15 minutes.
- While the bread proofs, put an oven rack on the second lowest rung and preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Put the casserole dish on second lowest rung and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove bread from casserole immediately using parchment overhang. Transfer to cooling rack. Let cool thoroughly before cutting.