>Who doesn’t love enjoying a piece of warm, crusty bread? (Preferably with a good bit of butter smeared over it, melting into the warm, doughy goodness?) Homemade is even better, but doesn’t that take special equipment and a scientist’s understanding of that exasperating, tempermental yeast that will either fizz over the top or never do anything if the water temperature isn’t perfect?! Who needs that frustration?
You don’t. Which is why I love Jim Lahey from Sullivan Street bakery. I don’t know him, but I love what he has done to help me enjoy baking bread.
I stumbled across this recipe on someone’s cooking blog. While it was seemingly easy (her four year old showed making it), she had tweaked it. So I went back to the new york times article to get the true original recipe.
This makes a delicious rustic loaf. Artisan. 🙂 It’s like the crusty bread bowl-looking bread at the bakery. It’s highly adaptable; I use white whole wheat flour. Bread flour. All-purpose. No matter what kind or how I’ve mixed them, it always turns out well. How great is that?!
What it lacks in difficulty, however, it makes up in time requirement. You have to have patience, since the first rising requires 12 – 18 hours. Yes, hours! Whew. Do the math before you start to be sure you aren’t going to be messing with bread in the wee hours. I start about lunch time the day before to get bread ready for just before lunch the next day.
Step 1: Mix 3 cups of flour, salt, yeast and water. Tip–1 5/8 cup is just 1 1/2 cups plus 2 T. I don’t have an 1/8 cup measure. Just mix it all till combined–don’t overmix. It will look pretty pitiful (as it should!), as you can see in the picture below. Now cover the bowl and let it sleep for 12-18 hours in a warm, cozy spot. It is perfect on my breakfast bar, since the heat blows in underneath.
#2 Here it is (below) after it has napped long and hard. Very much risen and kinda bubbly.
#3 Dumped out and folded over on itself a couple of times. Now chilling with a dusting of flour for about 15 minutes.
#4 Now flour a cotton towel generously and gently place back in your original bowl. You can also keep the towel on the counter, but I like this way of helping keep the bread dough in a rounder shape.
Now bring the corners in on each other, kind of pinching the dough at the top to form a ball (it’s not too precise).
Here it is after a couple of hours – actually about 3.5!
#5 Get a heavy duty lidded pot ready to go into the oven (preheated to 400) at least 30 minutes before the bread is ready. Then dump the bread ball ito the pot, cover and into the oven! This preheated pot will steam cook this beauty.
#6 Lid off and looking good. 15-30 more minutes or until it “cracks.” Yes, it needs a fissure or it isn’t fully done.
All done, cracked and beautiful. My hubby calls this “restaurant quality…one of the best things you make.” SMOOCH!
It doesn’t take long for us to devour this bread. YUM!
And if I might add, I recently discovered some special butter. Kerrygold. It is Irish butter. I got it at Trader Joe’s. It is a little pricier, but holy moly–so delicious!