Monday, December 1, 2008

B is for Bread

I have been wanting to start baking my own bread for a while, but the whole hours of work and kneading was not the most appealing thing in the world.

So when I came across the idea of no-knead bread with next to no effort involved, just a bit of time to do all the work, I had to give it a go. I found this website to be the most helpful, as it explains the why not just the how.

Basically put 3 cups plain flour, (I have been using 2 cups no-name and one cup of wholemeal organic flour) 1.5-2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp dried yeast in a bowl and mix. Now add 1.5 cups water and mix (I find I have to add just a bit more water to make it all come together. It should be sticky to touch, with no dry bits of flour left.

Cover this with gladwrap and leave overnight (I do the first step before going to bed at night, it takes less than 5 mins)

Optional step - in the morning get a spoon and beat the mixture down before covering again. Last loaf I made I forgot to do this and it had no discernable impact on the loaf.

The Yeast doing all the work
The following evening I heat up my baking dish - a rectangular cast iron casserole dish in a very hot oven, around 250 degrees celcius. It must be a dish with a lid. Initially I used two smaller dishes, hence the two loaves below, but now am just using one larger one, it's about 4 litres in size I'm guessing.
While that heats, I shake flour over the dough in the bowl, use a wooden spoon to pull it away from the sides and then tip it out onto a floured piece of baking paper. I roll it around a little to ensure that the whole loaf is floured and then when the dish is hot I flop the lot into it, cover and leave in the oven 30 mins.
Using the lid creates a steam like effect, that gives you a loaf like a bread artisan would make. After 30 mins take the lid off and cook for a further 15-20 mins at the same heat. Tip it out onto a wooden board, and listen to the crust crackle as it cools. It will be hard to wait, but if you can leave it for at least an hour it will be the best loaf you've ever eaten. Delicious plain, toasted, with oil and dukkah....oh the possibilities.
Loaves just out of the oven. (Can you hear them crackle)
Just looking at them is making me hungry, oh and the fact that it's lunch time

And this is the inside of a loaf. We have a woodfired sourdough place that sells loaves which don't taste much different to these for 6-7 dollars a piece. I reckon this one costs under a dollar and takes about 15 mins maximum time to make (plus 24 hours where you are not involved.)
I gave Allison some last night, and she said it was amazing. So amazing that she doesn't want the recipe, she just wants me to make it for her. Anyhow, hope some of you try it out. It really is failsafe. Well so far at least, and i'm on my third loaf and more coming!

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