Yesterday I baked bread for the first time since we moved to the new house. I used my standard recipe (which isn’t really a recipe): 1.5 cups of water, 2tsp yeast, 1 tsp salt, 1tbsp sugar, and the appropriate amount of flour to make a good dough. I also added a tablespoon of barley malt for some depth to the flavor. I kneaded for 7 minutes in the mixer and moved to a bowl to rise. I usually just punch the dough down once, but I had time to punch it down twice before shaping. I shaped it into a boule and let it bench proof while the oven heated to 550°. Once the oven was up to temperature I tossed in 4-5 ice cubes and let them melt/steam and scored the loaf. I moved the bread onto the baking stone in the oven, tossed in 3 more ice cubes, and dropped the temperature to 425°. Thirty-five minutes later, bread. This technique/new oven gave me the perfect crispy crust. It wasn’t too thick or hard, just a nice crackle as you bite through it.
This morning I toasted up two thick slices of the bread. If you’ve never had toast made with good, fresh bread you’re missing out. The warmth of the toast melts butter nicely, the outside is crispy and the inside is still slightly moist. Not much beats toast made from fresh bread.