Saturday, November 11, 2006

Home Sick

What do I do when I'm feeling under the weather?

I make chicken soup and I bake.

I saw this recipe in the New York Times and I just knew I had to try it. They said it was child proof, and seeing as I'm a big kid, and I wasn't up to anything too complicated, I figured this would be just up my alley.

Knowing my weakness for fresh bread, I cut the recipe down by half and then I mismeasured the flour (I know I shouldn't do anything that needs exactitude when I'm not feeling great) so the below recipe is my take on the NYTimes one. But it worked BEAUTIFULLY.

New York Times No -Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street BakeryTime:
About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising
Yield: One small loaf

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 5/8 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 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 (I used 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 3 quart heavy covered pot (I used a ceramic casserole that I made and that I have been waiting to use, but cast iron, enamel, or Pyrex would do) 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.

This really was as easy as they said. And just like they promised, the flavour was amazing and the crust was as crispy and crackly as anything you could get at a bakery.

Trust Mark Bittman to get it right!

Just a note to say that this is also an incredibly forgiving recipe - my oven decided after about 30 minutes to turn itself off and cool down almost completely before it let itself be turned back on. Even with this delayed baking time my loaf turned out perfectly, not overcooked, beautiful texture and crumb. If I only have one bread recipe to use for the rest of my cooking life, this would be it!


Tanna said...

It really is amazing bread and so good.
I'm in awe at the speed and the numbers of this thing.
Great blog, I'll return. I like presents too.

aja said...

Thanks Tanna, for dropping by and for the compliment (its mutual).

Are you thinking of trying it out using different kinds of flours? Tempting no? If you do, I'd love to know your results. 8^)

lindy said...

I think I will do this once more as written, then start with the flour substitutions. Your pottery is impressive. How cool to be able to make this bread in a pot you also made.

I wonder if you might design a special one for the bread, if you were to make it often. Something, perhaps oval, rather than round, but not too spread out length-wise, and quite deep? I think it would be perfect.

aja said...

Hey Lindy,
Thanks for dropping by - I have been reading you for simply ages and love your blog.

I have to admit that using my own work to cook in was a very cool thing to be able to do - never thought I would get to this point 8^)

I like the idea of trying to make an oval pot for baking bread (and other stuff of course)- it is definitely a major challenge and will take me a while to make it, but I just might give it a try!

Thanks for the idea!

burekaboy — said...

bittman does know his stuff.

satisfying, isn't it, when things work out better than you expected? ;-p

Tanna said...

What an incredible idea for you to make a pot for this bread!!!

aja said...

Hey Tanna,
Okay, okay, I'll take the hint!

Mind you, you guys will have to be really really patient - potting (or pottering?) takes time, and seeing as I only get to play with mud once a week, sometimes things take a VERY long while to come to fruition. It makes "The Bread" look speedy. But at your and Lindy's suggestion, an oval casserole dish to make "The Bread" will be started tomorrow.

chanit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chanit said...

Wonderful !
I use:
3 cups Bread flour
1/4 ts instant yeast
1 1/4 ts salt
1 5/8 cups water
Let me see later... :-) thank you.

aja said...

Hey Chanit,
I'd love to hear and see how yours turns out! I'm trying it again tonight, and then maybe again tomorrow (weekends you know...)