Saturday, November 26, 2011
Look at this bread...doesn't it look awesome? Like...its even a cracked top and flour covering the crust, so it looks super rustic and artisan-y...I'm clearly super skilled.
No, not really. This bread is actually much more impressive in its appearance and taste than the amount of skill that is required to make it. Seriously. This bread is SO easy. It takes no kneading at all! That's the part that usually gets to me when it comes to making bread. I never know if I've kneaded it enough or not, or if I should have not been lazy and kneaded it myself rather than have my stand mixer do it for me, and then I get all nervous and end up having to cross my fingers hoping that the bread will come out alright. Fortunately, this recipe pretty much guarantees a successful bread every time you make it, because it's just so simple!
The only thing to keep in mind when making this bread is that it takes a long time to go through the entire process. The majority of the time is inactive, as the bread needs about 20 hours of rising time in order to come out perfectly. No big deal though, just make the starter early on a Saturday afternoon, and finish the bread off on Sunday morning for one of the most delicious loaves of bread to ever be on your Sunday breakfast table.
My sister introduced me to this recipe. I remember she texted me one day while I was away at school that she was making some crazy bread in a pot, and I was, of course, very intrigued. She said it came out great, and my parents verified her claims. They loved it! I went home one weekend, and my sister made the bread for me to try, and I thought it was really fantastic. While the bread is super simple to make, and tastes delicious, my favorite part of the bread is definitely the CRUNCH that you get when you slice into it!
recipe from the New York Times, adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cups water (13 fl. oz)
In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot for at least 12 hours, although 18 hours is preferred.
After the first rise, you'll see the surface of the dough is covered with bubbles. The dough is ready at this point. Heavily dust a work surface with flour, and lightly turn the dough onto the flour. Sprinkle the top side of the dough with flour, and fold the corners in towards the center (my sister described this as "making a fortune teller," you know, those things everyone makes in elementary school that start out as squares and you fold the corners into the middle). Cover the dough with a dish towel, and let rise another 15 minutes.
Using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, quickly shape the dough into a ball. Then, take a cotton (NOT terry) towel, and generously cover it in flour. Place the dough ball with the seam side down on top of the flour-covered towel, and dust the dough with more flour. Cover with another cotton towel, and allow to rise until the dough has nearly doubled in size, about two hours.
About half an hour before the dough's second rise is finished, begin to preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, and place a heavy covered pot (cast iron, Pyrex, or ceramic; I used a Dutch oven) in the oven to warm. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Take the dough from the bottom towel, and turn the dough into the pot so that the seam is now facing up (it may look messy, but that's alright, the dough ball doesn't have to look perfect!). Make sure the dough is evenly spread across the bottom of the pot. Bake the dough with the lid on the pot for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid, and bake until the bread has a golden brown crust, about 20 minutes more. Allow the bread to cool on a rack before serving.