I fired up my Big Green Egg on Saturday, expressly to bake bread. Two different breads, made from the same dough: the Country Sourdough from Amy’s Breads, made into a (flattish) boule and turned into multi-seeded twists.
Well, technically, it wasn’t exactly Country Sourdough, as the printed recipe calls for pumpernickel (rye) flour, and I used white whole wheat instead. (For whatever reason, retail stores in my immediate area don’t carry rye flour.)
So how do you bake bread in a Big Green Egg? Fill the grill up with charcoal, light it, and put in the platesetter (a ceramic heat deflector used when cooking indirectly, for you non-Eggheads). Set a baking stone on top, bring the Egg to the desired baking temperature, then allow all of that ceramic mass to heat for 30 minutes or so before putting your bread atop the baking stone. It’s (almost) as easy as baking indoors, except that the kitchen doesn’t get hot. Breads baked in an Egg are almost indistinguishable from those baked in a gas or electric oven: no charcoal/smoky/grilled flavor, thanks to the indirect heat. Almost, except the Egged breads usually have a thicker, crunchier crust. One tip: upper crusts of Egg-baked breads can be a tad too light for my taste, so I usually flip the loaves over a few minutes before they’re done. Direct contact with the stone browns a too-pale crust quickly.
Back to the seeded twists: Amy’s Breads included a neat shaping technique that delivers interior and exterior crunch and flavor, and it can be applied to any dough. Simply pat & stretch dough into a rectangle and spread a mix of seeds (I used black and while sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and a few fennel seeds) on top. Fold the dough rectangle like a business letter into overlapping thirds. Next, coat the outside of the folded dough block with more seeds, then divide the dough into equal sized strips. Stretch each strip and twist once or twice, then place on a pan. just barely touching, to proof. Voila–seeds on the outside, seeds on the inside, and a decorative twist. (Optional extras: a sprinkle of kosher salt, a tiny bit of olive oil brushed on top.)
(And a big Thank You to all Veterans on this Memorial Day.)