Though this is still a baking post, I am shifting gears to a bit to talk about BREAD! Yes, bread. The kind that has the hard crunchy exterior and the soft chewy interior. My roommate bestowed me with this bread baking book for my birthday earlier this month and we were finally able to give the first recipe a whirl. This process is so incredibly easy, it is just time consuming; you need to strategically plan it out.
This book is called, my bread, and the author, Jim Lahey, created a different way to make bread where no kneading is involved. That’s right… NO KNEADING! You do, however, need a dutch oven or a cast iron skillet that can go in the oven.
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 1/4 tsp table salt
- 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/3 cup cool water
- wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour for dusting
In a medium bowl, stir in the flour, salt and yeast. With a wooden spoon, mix in the water until you have a wet, sticky dough. Make sure it is super sticky and cover the bowl with a plate, linen towel or plastic wrap. Set aside in room temp out of the line of sunlight for about 12-18 hours. The dough should double in size and the surface should be bubbly.
Dust a work surface with flour and use a bench scrapper or spatula to scrape the dough on the floured surface in one piece. The dough should cling to the bowl in long, thin strands and it will be sticky (do NOT add more flour). Lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.
Place a linen or cotton towel on the work surface and dust the cloth with the wheat bran, cornmeal or flour. Gently lift the dough onto the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top with the cornmeal, bran or flour. Loosely fold the ends of the towel over the dough to cover and place it in a draft-free spot for 1-2 hours. The dough will double in size once more.
Thirty minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat oven to 475 degrees with a rack in the lower third position. Place a covered dutch oven (at least 4.5 to 5.5 quart) in the center of rack. Using potholders, carefully remove the pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and lightly dust the dough with flour. Lift the dough from the towel and place it seam side up in the pot. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes. — Be very careful, the pot is super hot and if you hold it for too long your potholders may start to melt or leave burn marks!
Remove the lid and continue to bake for 15-30 minutes longer, until the bread has a dark chestnut color, but not burnt. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully transfer the bread to cooling racks. Don’t slice the bread right away. As difficult as it may be, it needs to be cooled at least an hour.