Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lesson #7 you can feed people old shoes if you make them fresh bread.

Ok so that might be a gross exaggeration but I know I will eat pretty much anything if it comes with fresh bread. I try and make one meatless meal a week in our house and I typically find we aren't really missing much if we have fresh bread. We pretty readily admit we are carb-avores in this house so its no huge shock we are into bread. I am so happy I found this bread recipe. I could kiss the person who invented it. They should be nominated to the carbohydrates hall of fame. The recipe is dead simple and the best part is that you keep a large batch of dough in your fridge and make a loaf whenever you want fresh bread. It's also a really friendly dough. It doesn't ask to be kneaded, the yeast doesn't have to be proofed, you don't have to measure temperatures AND you can make it into so many different things. With the exact same dough I have successfully made Naan, focaccia, pizza dough, sandwich bread, ciabatta and just the standard round loaf (boule) that we usually have with dinners. Try it. Do it. This is your carb conscience speaking.

So lets get down to it!

No Knead Bread
(Courtesy of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day)

Ingredients: (Makes 4 (1) pound loaves)
3 cups hot water (not boiling)
1 1/2 TBS sea salt
1 1/2 TBS yeast
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1: Pour hot water into a large (at least 4 quarts) tupperware or other food safe container. You will need a container that also has a lid!

2: Add yeast and salt. Stir just to mix together. Nothing has to fully dissolve or bubble or proof like other typical bread recipes. (Not that you need a picture but this is what it looks like )

3: Add flour to the container with the water, salt and yeast.

4: Stir the flour into the water mixture until all ingredients are incorporated. You do not have to knead the dough and this should only take a couple of minutes. I use a large wooden spoon. The dough will be slack, shaggy and very wet. Don't worry this is what it is supposed to look like!

Word on the street is that mixing is easier in your Cars jammies

5: Put the lid on your container but DON'T shut it. The dough needs some air-but not a whole heck of a lot.

6: Let the dough rise for 2 hours and then put in the fridge. The dough will not double in size and will be fairly flat when it rises. The dough is easiest to handle when it has been refrigerated over night or at least several hours so I typically make up a new batch on a day we don't need bread.

Here is everything you need for making the bread (minus a picture of the broiler pan I use)
*pizza stone (you can also use a cast iron pan or even a terracota saucer!)
*broiler pan (or any oven safe shallow pan)
*Pizza peel (I definitely didn't have one of these when I started making bread and used a wooden cutting board with a handle and it worked just fine!)
*small pitcher for pouring water into broiler pan (steam = crusty loaf!)
*flour for dusting loaf

7: Prepare a pizza peel (or cutting board) by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. I use an old washed out honey bear to distribute cornmeal onto my pizza peel because I got sick of cleaning up cornmeal.

8:Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour, then cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-sized) piece with a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on four “sides,” rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go, until the bottom is a collection of four bunched ends. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it doesn’t need to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf will flatten out during resting and baking.

9. Place the ball on the pizza peel. Let it rest uncovered for about 40 minutes. Depending on the dough’s age, you may see little rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking.

10. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on another shelf. My oven takes about 20 minutes to get to 450 so I usually just put my kitchen timer on for 20 minutes after I shape my loaf. When the timer goes off I set my oven to 450 and I know when it beeps to tell me its reached 450 I have given my loaf enough time to hang out before being baked.

11: Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing, serrated knife to pass without sticking. Slash a 1⁄4-inch-deep cross, scallop or tick-tack-toe pattern into the top. (This helps the bread expand during baking.)

12. With a forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour about a cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned and firm to the touch. With wet dough, there’s little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust. When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will audibly crackle, or “sing,” when initially exposed to room temperature air. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack, for best flavor, texture and slicing. The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.

13. Refrigerate the remaining dough in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next two weeks: You’ll find that even one day’s storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the two-week period. Cut off and shape loaves as you need them. The dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.

Make bread. Eat bread. It's the circle of life.

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