Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Bread Baking Feat!

That's "feat" as in "act of skill". Don't worry, I didn't bake bread with my feet! I finally tried the famous "no-knead" artisan bread recipe from Jim Lahey. Wow. How can something so simple look and taste so impressive? I saw Jim Lahey on a youtube video saying that it's so easy that a 6 year old can make better bread than any bakery. I'd say he's right! For those of you who have been living in a cave somewhere and haven't seen this recipe, I'll include it here. You have got to try it. I delayed because I've always seen it baked in a Le Creuset pot, and I don't have one (sigh). But I improvised and used some stoneware that I have. One is a covered pampered chef piece, and for the other I took two stoneware bowls and used one as the lid. Both were significantly smaller than 5-6 quart by the way, but they came out beautifully. I also didn't use instant yeast. I used regular yeast and mixed in into the water and let it sit a few minutes then mixed in the flour. Also, on the youtube video he said to cook it at 500 degrees but every recipe I found said 450. I compromised and did 475. Next, Paige wants to try adding garlic and rosemary, her favorite bread combination, ala Costco. Let me know if you try/have tried this recipe, and how you liked it!

No-Knead Bread

Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting

¼ teaspoon instant yeast

1¼ teaspoons salt

Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed (I used flour)

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

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