By request! The recipe I use for bread these days. Very, very yummy, and very, very easy. Remember how ML gave me a baking class for Christmas? Well, I finally went to a class back in June, and this recipe was one of the ones the teacher taught.
A few notes first:
- you have to plan ahead a bit for this, but only a bit! The dough has to rise 12-18 hours. But the dough itself only takes about 10 minutes to throw together, which I do in the evening the night before I’ll plan on baking it.
- if you have a digital kitchen scale, use it to measure the ingredients (rather than cup measures). It’s a much more accurate way to measure. I don’t have a digital kitchen scale, but it still turns out fine :)
- You can turn this into whole wheat bread by substituting a small amount of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. I typically use 3 parts bread flour, 1 part whole wheat. If you use more whole wheat than that, you’re dealing with a much denser bread!
Okay, so, ingredients:
3 cups (14 oz or 400g) unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt (or 1 tbsp kosher salt)
1/2 tsp instant OR active dry yeast (doesn’t matter which)
1 1/4 cup (10 oz or 300g) COOL tap water (not warm!)
1 tbsp white vinegar
corn meal for dusting
a 5-6 quart dutch oven, or some kind of large stock pot with a lid – just note that it will be going in the oven, so it canNOT have any plastic on it (some pots have handles that can be removed…). I use a stainless steel stock pot.
some sort of pastry scraper/flat spatula
And here are the instructions:
Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a medium bowl. Mix water and vinegar and add them to the dry ingredients, mixing together until you have a wet, sticky dough (about 1 minute). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at COOL room temperature for 12-18 hours.
Then: line a colander or strainer with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal (I like to use medium-grain cornmeal so there’s a bit of a crunch in the bottom crust of the bread). Set this aside.
Generously dust a work surface with flour and using a dough scraper or spatula, gently coax the dough out of the bowl in one piece. With well-floured hands, gently nudge and tuck the dough under to form a round ball. Put in the colander. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or tea towel and let rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.
Thirty minutes before the dough is finished rising, place a covered 5-6 wuart heavy pot on the lower third shelf of an oven and preheat to 475F. (Make sure all the parts/handles are oven-safe!)
Lightly flour the top of the dough and add decorate slashes (about 1/2 inch deep) if you so desire. Carefully remove the lid from the post and immediately place the dough, parchment paper and all, in the pot. Put the lid back on the pot and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the pot (carefully, because the steam from the pot can burn you!) and bake another 15 minutes. Remove bread from the pot and cool at least two hours before eating. (This is important because the bread continues to cook while it cools!)
Steaming the bread in the covered pot is what gives it the great artisan-style crust. And letting it slow-rise in cool water and at a cool temperature is what allows you to forgo the kneading process.
People have told me that they thought the bread was from a professional bakery! And that has nothing to do with my skills. :)
Feel free to ask me questions!
*The baking school is Baking Arts in San Francisco (www.bakingarts.net) and I highly recommend their classes! I’ve only taken the bread class, but it was a lot of fun and the teacher was fantastic.