Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Recipe: Best Homemade Bread....Ever.

Okay so this recipe is from the NY times. And it has a cult following. Because once you have had this bread you will do nothing but talk about it or want to eat it. Or maybe that is just me. I figure I have played with it in so many ways that I can almost call it my own now. Hee, hee.
I know the idea of making your own bread sounds like something you do when you live on a farm in 1820. Who has the time??? Patience??? More importantly who wants to spend even one minute kneading?

That is what is the brilliance of this recipe. No kneading. Does it take a long time to make? Well, yes and no. It takes around 16-18 hours to complete but actual "manual labor" time is around 7 minutes. I don't lie.

The hardest part is just the timing. But the payoff is great, amazing rustic, blow your mind, how-can-I-ever-go-back bread.

Homemade bread with a soft delicious, chewy warm centre and crusty exterior is what I would consider the equivalent to a food orgasm. Pair it with some St André or another rich creamy fromage and a bottle of rich red. Umm..that is my death bed meal. HEAVEN!!!! Once you make this you will never want to buy a store bought again.

You can make the full loaf or two baguettes. Just follow the instructions and during step 3 (or when it comes time to let the dough rise for another 2 hours) cut in two and form into a baguette shape and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don't worry about pre-heating the pan. Just put into the 450 degree oven and let cook for around 45 minutes, uncovered.

3 cups flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

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; 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.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 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.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.
Here is a link to a video to help you out, if needed.

These are a few of my favorite flavour versions, but get creative!

As for the flour if you want a hearty, rich loaf I love doing a combo of:
1 cup Kamut flour
1 cup Spelt Flour
1 cup Whole wheat flour

Then add the following
1 cup diced dried figs
1 teaspoon dried anise
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried raisins
1/2 cup pecans
3/4 cup pecans
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds

For the classic white loaf I like it plain or either of these flavors:

1/2 cup chopped olives
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
3/4 cup shredded cheddar or asiago cheese
Note: add these ingredients in the 2 hour rise stage just before cooking

1 bulb of roasted garlic, heads removed
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Note: add these ingredients in the 2 hour rise stage just before cooking

1 comment:

  1. YES!!! I've been dying to get this delicious recipe! ...hmm I can taste it already!