bread has a very different flavor and texture from anything
I've made before. Kneading bread isn't a problem for
me - I have a bread machine for that! - but if you knead
bread by hand, this can save you a lot of drudgery!
And the bread is really fantastic - the long rise intensifies
the flavor, and it has a neat, bubbly crumb structure.
This recipe has been going around the Web recently.
I've traced it back to an article in the November 8,
2006 edition of The New York Times, The
Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work.
What you need :
1.5 cups of water
1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast.
No, that's not a typo.
3 cups of all-purpose
or bread flour. (I use bread flour.)
or wheat bran (I use wheat bran.)
A large mixing bowl
A large, heavy covered
pot, casserole dish, or the equivalent
towel, like a flour sack kitchen towel
Mix the yeast and flour, then add the water. Mix
until you have a large, shaggy doughball and there is
no more loose flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap
and let it sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
When the dough is bubbly, it's ready for the next
stage. Flour a working surface and your hands, flatten
the dough on it without getting too rough, then fold
it once or twice to make a ball. Cover it with plastic wrap and let
it rest for 15 minutes. Coat the cotton towel with wheat
bran or cornmeal - don't skimp, you don't want the dough
to stick to the cloth! - and put the dough, seam side
down, on it. Sprinkle it with more cornmeal or wheat
bran. Cover it with another cotton towel and leave it
to rise for two hours.
A half hour before the bread is done rising,
preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with the container
in which you'll be cooking the bread inside. This is
important, as it should be hot when the dough goes
in! Don't grease the container; the steam generated
from the wet dough will prevent sticking. Anyway, when
the dough seems ready poke your finger a half-inch into
it; if the dough doesn't spring back right away
it's time to cook it. So, carefully take the cooking
container out of the oven and dump the dough into
it. (Fair warning: the wheat bran will go flying everywhere!)
Put the lid on and bake the bread for 30 minutes, then
remove the lid and bake for 10 more minutes to let the
crust brown. Take it out and let it cool down on a rack.
Slice and eat!
This recipe is rather imprecise, which is fine; there's
room to improvise and experiment with this one. As you
can see in the photo at the top of the page, I use plenty
of wheat bran, resulting in amusingly shaggy
loaves. Plenty tasty, but messy to slice! Also note
that the cover should hold in the steam if you want
a soft crust. (I use a Pyrex bowl and, as a cover, a
Pyrex plate of the same size.) The one time I made it
with a cover that allowed too much circulation, I ended
up with a thick, chewy crust. I don't mind at all, but