Sunday, November 18, 2012

Crusty Bread

I'm still on my baking kick this fall...and I have a recipe that you MUST try if you like bread. I mean, really. You have to try this. It's super easy and so delicious. Wayne and I have been looking for a long time for a good artisan-style loaf that is crusty on the outside, and airy and chewy on the inside. We've tried lots of recipes, some fairly labor-intensive, that have all fallen a bit short. We still felt like we could find a better loaf at a bakery than we could make at home.

But, thanks to Pinterest, we found The One. And it takes next to no effort. I've made 2 loaves this weekend. The first was plain the second was jalapeno and sharp white cheddar. Both delicious. Next up, rye. If I'm going to indulge in some bread, this is what I'm after. Just spread a little salted butter, or Laughing Cow cheese and salami, make a sandwich, spread a little cream cheese and jam, or eat it plain. It's all good. Mmmm. 

The link I've included gives a lot more pictures and instructions. I'm writing how I made mine, which is slightly different. 

Crusty Bread

3 cups bread flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water

In your stand mixer, mix together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and let the dough hook mix it together until it comes together. (I let it go a few minutes). (Or you can just whisk it together until a shaggy mixture forms). It will be a wet, sticky dough. Place in a large bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or with a little oil.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours (or more). Overnight works great. Do not refrigerate.

Pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set.  (OR, just scrape the dough down off the sides, so it releases some of the gases, and let it rest in the bowl until the pot is preheated). We tried it both ways and didn't notice a difference in the final result. We let it rest about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 450 degrees. When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for about 10 minutes. We used our stainless steel stock pot. (She recommends preheating an enamel cast iron pot for 30 minutes).  **See below.

Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 18 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.  Devour.

Some variations (all but the Jalapeno Cheddar are straight from Simply So Good):

* Jalapeno-Cheddar loaf:  2 seeded jalapenos, about 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar.

*Rye bread: 1 cup rye flour, 2 cups white flour and 1/2 tsp caraway seeds and caraway seeds sprinkled on top.

*Lemon/Gruyere/Rosemary: Zest of 1 lemon, 1 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere and chopped rosemary

*Cranberry/Orange/Almond: 3/4 cup dried cranberries, zest from 1 orange, 1/2 cup sliced almonds

**She recommends your pot to be about a 5.5 quart pot. (You can go a little smaller or a little larger). You can use any container that can handle the heat and has a lid.
Other baking dishes she says have been used:
Clay pots with lids, Pizza stone with a bowl to cover the bread, insert from a crock pot, Pyrex baking dish with a lid, stainless steel pot with a lid, baking dish covered with aluminum foil, old cast iron dutch oven.

1 comment:

Sue S said...

I took a class on this "No-knead Artisan Bread". She gave us the recipe of Jim Lahey that Pinterest source refers to. She had her own adaptations also. I never tried because I didn't think I had the right pot.
The jalapeƱo / cheese sounds wonderful!