Wednesday, September 14, 2011

the best bread!

one of my bestest girlfriends recently celebrated a birthday- i am usually not so great at thinking of gifts for people- especially those that have so many wonderful things all ready, so i struggled with what to get her. I recently found an incredible bread recipe that has literally changed my bread-making life. It is an easy (and impressive) bread to take to dinners or make for slightly special meals at home. it requires a little bit of planning, 4 basic ingredients, and a ceramic or cast iron pot, but the result is the most perfect, chewy, moist and delicious bread! so i figured why not share this recipe (and its needed supplies) with my sweet friend on her birthday. It made a personalized gift that had meaning for me, and therefor, passed along meaning to her too.
A gift ready for a wonderful friend
No Knead French Bread (From The Essential New York Times Cookbook)
3 cups flour (any kind is fine, but unbleached white gives the BEST french bread taste!)
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp cool water (more or less as needed)
Cornmeal (or wheatbran) as needed

  • Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. 
  • Add the water and stir until blended; the dough should be shaggy, moist, and sticky. (I usually need to add 1/2 cup more water.)
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 12-18 hours at room temperature. (I usually make this the night before we want to have- around 8:00pm, and then the timing works out to have fresh bread for dinner the following day. I know this makes it sound like a lot of work or a high maintenance bread, but i assure you, its simple and only requires a few moments of your attention a few times over the 18 hour period. easy peasy!) 
  • Lightly flour work surface and place dough on it. 
  • Sprinkle with a little more flour, and fold it over onto itself twice. 
  • Cover loosely again with plastic wrap and leave 15 minutes. 
  • Generously coat a cotton or linen towel with cornmeal, wheat bran, or flour.
  • Gently form the dough into a ball and place it seam-side down on the tea towel. 
  • Dust with a little more cornmeal and fold the sides of the towel over the ball so it is covered. 
  • Set the timer for 2 hours and let the dough rise 
  • When the timer goes off, leave the dough as is and preheat the oven to 450 F. Put a covered 6-8 quart heavy pot (cast iron, enamel, or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. Set the timer for 30 minutes. 
  • After 30 minutes, carefully remove the pot from the oven. 
  • Turn the dough over into the pot. If it looks like a mess that's okay - it will end up fine. 
  • Cover the pot with the lid and bake for 30 minutes 
  • Uncover the pot and bake for another 15 minutes or until the loaf is beautiful and brown. 
  • Cool on a rack and ENJOY! 
wrapped in a tea towel for the final rise
the finished product!