Sunday, March 14, 2010

beginner's bread

I am definitely a novice when it comes to bread baking. I think I've only made one loaf before (after being inspired by stories of daily bread baking in
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). The loaf given to us by JR's running buddy last week reminded me how fantastic freshly baked bread can be. So I decided to give it a shot. In my internet searching, the first few recipes I came across involved yeast and water sitting together overnight; I was hoping for something a little less involved.

Then I came across one that could be made within a day. One that doesn't require any kneading. Eureka! Given that my day today is going to be filled with some other serious kitchen stuff (the March Daring Bakers' Challenge; more on that soon), low effort fresh bread sounded perfect.

Learnings from bread making today in Cole's Kitch:
  1. Put a knife next to the rising dough as the oven is heating; this will serve as a reminder to slash the top of the bread before putting it in the oven. I forgot to do this to my first loaf, but remembered after the bread had been in the oven for 10 minutes. I decided I'd try doing it at that point, but it was long enough that the outside had already begin to harden, so rather than a pretty bread top, I ended up with a baguette with knife cuts in it.
  2. Don't preheat the pan that goes under the bread as it's baking. I had thought the pan was supposed to go in at the same step as the pizza stone. I learned this was incorrect when the water I poured into my (very hot) Le Creuset dish caused it to crack in half. :-( When I baked the second loaf, I used a square metal pan and put it into the oven the same time as the bread, which yielded no casualties.
  3. Fresh baked bread is really, really yummy. I should make it more regularly.
The following recipe was adapted from one I found on Anissa's Kitchen. I cut the recipe in half and substituted whole wheat flour for part of the regular flour called for (both changes are reflected below), but followed her technique (except for the unfortunate deviations described above!). One other exception: rather than use a wooden spoon to to the mixing as called for in the recipe, I let my KitchenAid do all of the work for me.

No Knead Artisan Bread
Makes 2 1-pound loaves

1 1/c c. lukewarm water
1 packet fast acting yeast
2 tsp. sea salt
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour

Add yeast and salt to water in the bowl of KitchenAid stand fitted with dough hook attachment. Add flour and mix until everything is uniformly moist, without any dry patches. The dough should be loose and wet.

Cover bowl with towel and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Move bowl (still covered with towel) to refrigerator and leave there to continue to rest for at least 3 hours. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this point. I made mine all in the same day, but the original recipe says that the dough will last in the fridge for up to 14 days. (Which could actually make daily bread making feasible...)

Place a piece of parchment paper on unrimmed baking sheet. Dust hands with flour. Pull up and cut off about a 1-pound piece of dough (the size of a grapefruit) using a serrated knife. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom to make the top smooth with some surface tension. Place on parchment paper. Let rise, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Preheat baking stone in middle rack in oven for 20 minutes at 450 degrees. Place empty rimmed baking on rack below stone. Dust loaf with flour and slash the top with a serrated knife. Slide bread (including parchment paper) onto preheated stone. Pour 1 cup water into pan underneath and close door. The steam this creates will yield a nice crisp crust on bread. Bake 20-30 minutes, until deep golden brown.

We enjoyed our ugly loaf straight out of the oven with butter and it was fantastic. Loaf number two (pictured above) looks as good as it tastes!

One year ago: fish tacos

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