Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bread: Finally Achieved!

Ahh bread. The oldest, most basic form of human nourishment. I have always wondered how so few ingredients: flour, salt, yeast and water, can be so delicious and addicting.

After attempting to bake bread twice before, (and extremely disappointed with the results), I am happy to present the ideal bread recipe. No-knead technique, thick crust, soft insides and a large crumb contribute to a delicious, hardy bread. The recipe below is from Jim Lahey's My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. The fermenting period of the dough takes around 12-18 hours, so make sure to plan ahead! I assure you, the results will be worth it.

Basic No-Knead Bread Recipe

3 cups bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast

1 1/3 cups cool water

Cornmeal for dusting

Combine flour, salt and yeast in a medium sized bowl. Slowly pour in the water, mixing until the dough is wet and sticky. Cover with a plate or cloth. Place the bowl out of direct sunlight, at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
When the dough has bubbles on it's surface, peel the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface. Form the dough into a ball and cover with a clean dish cloth. Let set for 1-2 hours, until the dough has risen.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place an oven-safe pot into the center of a rack to heat.* (check note)
Use pot holders to remove the pot from the oven. Slip the dough into the pot, dust with cornmeal, and cover.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove cover, and continue baking until the bread is a deep brown color, but not burnt, around 15-30 minutes more.
Use a spatula to lift the bread out of the pot, and let cool for at least an hour until slicing.

*Due to lack of an oven-safe pot, I used a pizza stone sitting on top of a metal dish of water.

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