Thursday, December 9, 2010

Artisan Bread

Submitted by Emily Daniel

My friend Rosalynde found this recipe in the New York Times. The secrets are a good sponge for your dough and a dutch oven with a lid. Crusty, chewy, air bubbly goodness. I like to serve it with Mozzarella Caprese, any soup, or slathered with Nutella!

First, here's the original recipe:

Recipe: No-Knead Bread Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

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

¼ teaspoon instant yeast

1¼ teaspoons salt

Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

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.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

I basically follow the recipe, but I skip a few steps. Here's what I do:

The night before you want to eat the bread, mix 3 cups of flour (all-purpose is fine, doesn't need to be bread flour), 1/4 tsp yeast (I use instant bread-machine yeast), 1 5/8 cup water, and 1 1/4 tsp salt. Mix it in a large bowl just until it comes together; it will be very sticky and very ugly, don't worry about it.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and leave it alone for at least 18 hours---it can go even longer, too. You should see bubbles at the surface when it's ready. About 3 hours before you want the bread to be done, dump out the dough onto a floured surface. It will be a wet, stringy, sticky, ugly mess; don't worry. Just fold it over itself once or twice until it's roughly in a round loaf shape (again, it will be ugly and shapeless---DON'T WORRY!). Leave it to rise again for 2 hours.

Before you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450, then put in a round, oven-proof pot with a lid. (I use an enamel stock pot.) When the pot and oven are at temperature, take out the pot and pour the dough into it. Say it with me now: it will be an ugly, sticky mess---don't worry! Shake the pot a little to even things out, then cover with the lid and put in the oven to bake. (Full disclosure: I sometimes skip the heated pot step, and it has always turned out fantastic anyway.) Bake covered for 1/2 hour, then uncovered for 15 more minutes. Prepare to be amazed by the gorgeous loaf that emerges and the incredible taste and texture. Enjoy!

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