Here in Southern California, after temperatures in excess of 105℉, things are beginning to cool off as Fall is right around the corner. That means it’s almost time to fire up that oven, roll up my sleeves and get to work on a no-knead bread recipe I had tried a few months ago.
If you have tasted homemade bread you know how wonderful that first warm slice all buttered and crispy/chewy is. Right out of the oven, fresh baked artisan style bread is on the top of my comfort food list.
This recipe calls for 12-18 hours of fermenting of the yeast mixture and final proofing, and about 45 minutes to an hour in the oven. Because timing is important you do need to do some planning to be sure you’ve started the process at a time that will work with your schedule.
For instance, if I mix the ingredients at 6pm on Friday evening, then I’ll need to be in a position to do the next step between 6am and 10am Saturday morning. Then I’ll have to wait another 2 hours or so of proofing time before I can put the final dough into the oven and be willing to wait another 45 minutes to an hour before its ready. If you follow this schedule you’ll have great bread to go with that bowl of chili or soup or make panini at lunch.
It’s really easy and requires no previous experience. Just some patience and a 6-8 qt. cast iron Dutch Oven.
If you are looking to try making bread for the first time you don’t have to be afraid of this recipe. It works out great every time.
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 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 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 for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
I do hope you try this wonderful old world style bread. It’s great with a hearty soup or just toasted hot with butter and jam.
For more great bread recipes check out Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
I use this kind of 6 qt or larger cast iron dutch oven. You really don’t need to pay $200.oo+ for that fancy french one.
‘If your offering is a grain offering baked in a covered pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.”
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