From Devon Bergman
(Adapted from the “Master Recipe” in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.)
Makes four one-pound loaves
Bread 3 cups lukewarm water (no warmer than 100 degrees) 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets) 1 1/2 tablespoons Kosher or other coarse salt 6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with scoop and sweep method parchment paper for baking baking stone broiler pan
Onion Jam 3 tablespoon unsalted butter 2 1/4 red onions, thinly sliced 1/2 bottle dry red wine 2 tablespoons ruby port 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar salt and pepper to taste
1. Warm water slightly: it should feel just a little warmer than body temp. If cold water is used the rise time will be doubled.
2. Combine yeast, salt, and water in a 5-quart mixing bowl or large plastic container and give it a quick stir.
3. Add the flour all at once to the yeast, salt, and water. Mix with a wooden spoon until the flour is well-incorporated; it should appear uniform with no dry patches. (NO KNEADING IS NECESSARY.) This mixing should only take a couple of minutes.
4. Allow the dough to rise. Cover the bowl or container with a non-air tight lid or loose fitting sheet of plastic wrap. The mixture should rise at room temp. until dough begins to collapse or at least flatten on the top. (No less than 2 hours)
5. While the dough is rising make the onion jam as follows:
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, stir to coat with butter. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are wilted but not browned, 20-30 minutes. Add the red wine, increase the heat to medium-high, and simmer, uncovered until there is little or no liquid, 40-50 minutes. Add the port and the sugar and simmer until all the liquid has been cooked away. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Forming the Boule: Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a one-pound piece the size of a large grapefruit size. Dust hands and work surface with more flour if necessary. Again – NO KNEADING IS NECESSARY. (The remaining dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 14 days with an air-tight lid.)
Before forming the dough into a ball create a pocket in the lump of dough with the handle of a wooden spoon and fill the cavity with jam. Gently pinch the pocket closed and repeat in another area of the dough until there is a random distribution of jam-filled pockets deep within the dough (as few or as many as desired).
Dust hands with more flour if needed. To create a “gluten cloak” gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. The bottom of the ball may look like a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out in the resting and baking process.
7. Place the formed loaf on a sheet of parchment on top of an upside-down sheet pan. Rest the dough between 40 and 60 minutes before baking.
8. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a baking stone in the oven on the center rack and an empty boiler tray on the lowest rack.
9. After the boule has rested, paint the loaf with water and slash the top of the loaf with 1/4″ deep cuts approximately 2″ apart.
10. When the oven is fully preheated, slide the loaf with the parchment onto the baking stone from the upside down sheet pan. In the broiler tray on the low oven rack, place ice cubes from two trays to create steam during the baking process. The loaf should bake until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch, approximately 50 min.
11. Let cool completely before slicing.