Years ago, I bookmarked a bread recipe I saw on The Smitten Kitchen . It seemed easy enough, and it only called for a few ingredients. Unfortunately, it did call for time, a Dutch oven or other large baking vessel, and effort, so it went the way of many of my recipe bookmarks.
The recipe probably would have stayed in the tombs with its many, many friends if not for two things:
1) It kept popping up on Pinterest, like almost every time I used it.
2) I found out my parents had a 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven they weren’t using.
With the heat wave providing the summer equivalent of snow days, I decided there was no time like the present to give this recipe a try.
I’m not going to detail the recipe steps, which you can find on the NY Times website, but here are the ingredients:
3 cups flour, plus extra for dusting (and messing up your just-scrubbed kitchen floor)
1/4 tsp. instant yeast (or 1/3 tsp regular yeast, per The Smitten Kitchen )
1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1-1/2 c warm water.
You mix the dry ingredients and then stir in the water. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter for 12-18 hours.
Here I must pause to advise that the dough will appear “shaggy”, a term I wouldn’t normally use to describe anything other than my hair, but judging from the Pinterest links I read, it’s a required part of any post. (This is especially funny when the blogger appears to be trying to pass off a recipe with these exact ingredients and instructions as her own.)
When the dough is ready, you move it to a flour-coated linen or pastry cloth and let it rise again for a couple hours. See the NY Times link for the exact steps.
About 30 minutes before the final rise is complete, you put the empty pot with cover into the oven and preheat to 450°. Then you have to transport the dough into that hot &%#*#=@, so be careful!
Bake covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.
I did not get a very good rise either time, which I attribute to a) User Error (mis-measurement of water due to last minute realization that measuring cup was otherwise occupied), and 2) expired yeast. I decided to go ahead and bake it, just to see what would happen.
The lack of adequate rising did not affect the smell. This was heavenly!
Not bad for a first effort! It might be a bit too brown for some, but it’s perfect for me.
This is a delightfully crusty bread. My attempt is a bit too dense on the inside, but I have since purchased fresh yeast and an extra liquid measuring cup, so I think I’ll resolve that problem on the next loaf. The most important thing is that it tastes great!
I used unbleached all-purpose white flour, as suggested, but with so few ingredients, it’s incredibly satisfying in small portions. It might have been made with white flour, but this is NOT Wonder Bread.
Once I have this recipe down pat, I’ll experiment with different flours and additional ingredients (cheese! olives! herbs!). I’ll also experiment with smaller loaves and the freezability of a loaf. That’s very important to me, as you know.
Stay tuned for future explorations. At $1/loaf, or less, this is something on which I can afford to experiment!
Or, if you’d like to place an order now, the line forms at the left. (I broke a tooth today–NOT while eating my homemade bread!–and am probably going to need an income boost.)
Do you bake bread? Any suggestions for add-ins?