I was intrigued by all the positive feedback on this recipe. It WAS excellent. I took in some of the suggestions: I cut the salt to 1 tsp, I let the bread rise on my parchment covered stoneware sheet, I did brush the top with the egg wash and I did cut the bread lengthwise. I didn't have any cornmeal so I skipped that. The parchment prevented any sticking. I also put the pan of ice cubes in the bottom while baking. I used all bread flour and it was fine. I may try it in a loaf (in a loaf pan) and use the half bread flour/half AP flour option and see how that turns out. Has anyone ever tried this in a loaf pan?
The crust is superb; nice and chewy and the middle was nice and soft. I did let the bread rise about ten minutes longer than the recipe called for, as it looked a bit on the skinny side at 40 minutes.
I am a microbiologist by trade. Yeasts are living organisms. They respond to moisture and, more importantly, temperature. If it's cold, your yeast just isn't going to rise as fast as you'd like. There is an optimum temperature for all microorganisms. Since we work with human pathogens, and not commercial food organisms, I don't know the exact range that this would be. I do know that the extra ten minutes made all the difference in the rising for this bread.
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I was intrigued by all the positive feedback on this recipe. It WAS excellent. I took in some...