Artisan Baking Axioms
The axioms of artisan bread baking, from
"Peter Reinhart's Artisan breads every day"
Use the best ingredients, including unbleached rather than bleached flour.
Use only as much yeast as necessary to get the job done. Slower fermentation is better than faster fermentation.
Mix the dough only as long as needed to get the job done to prevent oxidizing the flour, which bleaches the flour and reduces aromas and flavor.
The higher rather than lower hydration levels. More water equals better oven spring and thus bigger holes and better flavor.
When shaping loaves, handle the dough gently, in order to preserve the gases developed during the earlier fermentation cycle.
Bake at well insulated ovens at the appropriate temperatures. For crusty hearth breads, hotter and faster is better than cooler, slower baking.
For hearth breads, large, irregular holes in the crumb of the loaf are preferable to medium even-size holes. Larger holes allow the heat to penetrate more quickly to the center of the loaf, reducing baking time and preserving more moistness to create a thinner, crackly crust. Larger holes also indicate a better, gentler shaping technique.