Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fresh Baked Bread

No, I'm not kidding! I've always been scared and intimidated at the thought of making bread. All the yeast and rising and kneading and waiting. But when I saw this recipe on one of my new favorite blogs, honey & jam, I was curiously interested because the title said "No Knead Bread", it looked absolutely amazing, and it only had 4 ingredients. I took the challenge and it came out so good. It was crusty, chewy, and had a really great flavor for only using flour, yeast, salt and water. And we ate it straight out of the oven which pretty much is the best thing ever. Try this bread! It's awesome! Did I sell you on it yet?:)

No Knead French Bread
From Artisian Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
via: www.honeyandjam.comRecipe notes: It might seem difficult to incorporate all of the flour into the yeast mixture, but just keep mixing. You can add just a little bit of water at a time to help, if needed. The recipe calls for a pizza stone, but I don’t have one, so I just used a cast iron skillet instead. Also, my second rise took a bit longer than the 40 minutes suggested, probably about an hour and 15 minutes to get to the size I wanted.

3 cups of lukewarm water

1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt

6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Grab a very large mixing bowl, or a large container that you can cover. In it, mix the water, yeast, and salt. You don’t have to heat up the water to a precise optimal temperature for the yeast. I’ve even used just regular tap water, and it’s worked well for me. Just let that sit together for a while (you don’t have to wait for the yeast to dissolve completely), then dump the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon. You don’t need to knead this, and you’re not looking to make it come together into a dough ball. You just want everything mixed well, with no streaks of flour left, and you’re done.

Leave it in your container, covered (but not airtight, or it’ll pop), for a few hours. When it has risen and then deflated a bit, your dough is done. It’s ready to be used or stored in the refrigerator.

To bake the bread, just grab a chunk of dough, about the size of a grapefruit. Dust your hands with flour to help prevent sticking, and gently pull the sides of the dough toward the bottom, rotating the dough, until you get a roundish shape with a smooth surface. It should only take you about a minute or less to do this. The dough won’t be entirely in the bottom, where it may look bunched up, but don’t worry about it.

Put it on a cutting board that’s been dusted with cornmeal to prevent sticking, and let it rest for at least 40 minutes. No need to cover it. If the dough has been refrigerated, it helps to let it rest a little more, until it’s no longer chilled.

Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake, put a cast iron skillet (or a pizza stone) in the middle rack of your oven, and put a broiler pan (I used a cookie sheet) in the bottom rack. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Dust some flour on the top of your loaf, and slash the top, about 1/4-inch deep.

After twenty minutes of preheating, it’s time to bake. (You can put the bread in after 20 minutes, even if your oven hasn’t reached 450 degrees yet.) Slide the loaf onto the baking stone, and then quickly pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler pan. Then quickly shut the oven door to keep the steam inside.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until you get a nice brown crust. Remove and let cool completely, if you can wait that long.See, that doesn't sound so hard, does it? Even if it does, try it anyway! The only suggestion I would make is that if you wanted to you could probably just make one big loaf out of the dough just watch the time in the oven. Oh yeah, don't use a glass pyrex pan in the bottom of the oven for the hot water. It might explode. I may or may not have a friend who gave me that info;)