Lepinja with Preferment

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This was a successful experiment to improve the Bosnian flatbread Lepinja by adding a preferment step, rather than making it as a straight dough. The process involved dividing the original recipe into two parts, a preferment part, made earlier to develop gluten and flavor complexity, and the remainder added at the normal time a few hours before baking. This basic idea can be done with any straight dough. It literally only takes a minute to make the preferment, which in this case is equal parts by weight of flour and water with a small amount of yeast.

 

Preferment                        Remainder

All purpose flour                              4.33 oz. (1 cup)                  8.67 oz. (2 cups)

Water                                                   1 cup

Yeast                                                     ¼ tsp.                                    1-3/4 tsp.

Sugar                                                                                                     1 Tbs.

Salt                                                                                                         1-1/2 tsp.

Milk, lukewarm                                                                                 ¼ cup

 

This is written for baking bread in the evening to serve with dinner.

Mix together the preferment ingredients in the morning. Ferment at room temperature until bubbly, and then store in the refrigerator until about 3 hours before the bake.

Mix together the remaining yeast with the lukewarm milk and sugar. Let stand until bubbly. Mix in with the preferment, the remaining flour, and the salt. After mixing well so that all the flour is moistened, allow to rest covered for 15 minutes. Then knead into a smooth dough, and allow to rise until doubled, about 2 hours. If the dough is fully risen too soon for baking, store in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Divide the bread into 6 pieces and form each piece into a rough disk about 6 inches in diameter. Bake for 15 minutes until browned. Cool on a rack and serve.

I baked these with a combination of a Forneau oven for 5 minutes and on a baking steel for 10 minutes. This combination produced a good crust and good ovenspring.

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