Monday, January 5, 2015

Ancient Bread

Hmm, picture yourself in Ancient Rome; you are sitting in the kitchen- really an area with wooden table and a large stone hearth oven. You’re sipping some newly fermented beer, waiting for your bread to finish baking. This is what it might look like when finished:

I snuck a peek at a book called “My Bread” by Jim Lahey while logging some café time with the Hubby. Lahey has this no knead recipe that has 4 ingredients, and he claims it is the closest we can get to bread from ancient times. Of course I was intrigued. So, I copied it down and made it for myself. WOW- it was amazing. I imagine that many of you who actually read this blog have tried some of mine. It is so light and airy in the inside- even when you use wheat flour. Since my obsession started, I was gifted the book for Christmas, and I plan on working through it to try each recipe.

One thing I love about “My Bread” is that the author, Jim is all about the baking. He wants everyone to have the recipe free. I think he wrote the book for those of us who love a good bread story. His is pretty cool. His love of baking came from the (self imposed) need to impress a girl. ; )

Here is the recipe and a video link to see Jim Lahey work his magic. My voice is in italics. Enjoy!

No-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
Time: About 10 minutes plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting¼ teaspoon instant yeast1¼ teaspoons salt
~1 5/8 cups of waterCornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water (more if needed to make it sticky), and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (I use a tea towel- never plastic). Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees (I put mine in the micro over night).

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. 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 wheat flour and 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 475 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 at least one hour. Stick your ear close to the crust after it is cooling on the rack- it will crackle at you :)
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

YouTube piece on this bread:

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