Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Super Simple Crusty Bread

This is by far the easiest bread I've made and I don't think bread is all that hard to make. Time consuming, yes, hard, no. Other than waiting, this bread isn't even that time consuming. After reading about this bread, I've also discovered that I'm about 6-10 years late in the food blogging world. It's generally called no-knead bread and supposedly it appeared in the NY Times for the first time.  It's made its rounds over and over again and yet somehow I seemed to have missed it. Maybe that's because I wasn't baking as much bread as I do now, who knows. The point is, I'll be making this bread a whole lot more from now on.

It's perfect for dipping in olive oil and making panini or just as toast with melted butter on it. I'm starting to salivate. I'd be noshing on a piece right now if we hadn't finished it the other night with dinner. I do think this bread is best eaten the day you make it or the next. As with most homemade items without preservatives, it goes bad quickly. Plus it loses that outer crustiness. Unless you warm it up in the oven or toaster, like I did. (I put it in the toaster at 200° for about 12-15 minutes to warm it up and it turned out great.)

I don't own a cast iron pot, (the key to crusty bread) so I borrowed one from a friend, but I'm definitely going to be checking out the sales, because I must purchase one to make my life easier. I've read all different ways you can "make" your own using a pizza stone, crockpot insert, pot of water, terra cotta pot, etc. The list goes on. I honestly just don't want to bother with that. Although I do have a Pyrex that I might try. As long as what you are using can withstand 450°, you can use it. The other important thing here is that it must have a lid. The lid creates steam and therefore makes the bread crusty. Or at least that's what I read somewhere on the internet and we all know that everything we read online must be true.

It takes a whopping five minutes to put this bread together. Then let it sit. 12-18 hours. I find it's best to make it at night and then bake it the next day. The smell of freshly baked bread wafting throughout the house is fantastic. So far, I've only made it twice and both times it turned out great. I really want to add in some extras like rosemary and garlic with parmesan on top. Or cheddar and jalapenos. Maybe get a little fancy and add lemon zest, nutmeg and gruyere. I tend to go savory with a bread like this, but I guess you could also go sweet and add cinnamon, sugar and currants. Regardless what you add, I have a feeling it will be fabulous.

My boyfriend has already decided that I need to make this bread at least two days a week. He's a bit of a carb-aholic. He also said that of the tortillas, white bread and chips.

So how do you make this wonderful bread? I've read different resting times and different amounts of yeast, but this is what I did and it worked beautifully. Please let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them.

Super Simple Crusty Bread
Yield: One loaf
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 12 - 18 hours including proofing

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast. Add water and combine until shaggy. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a dry, warm environment for 12-18 hours. Dough will be full of bubbles and very wet.

Lightly flour a work surface and turn out dough. Work into a ball and cover for thirty minutes minimum. I used plastic wrap, but some like to use a flour sack. The flour sack will help it retain it's shape better.

Heat oven to 450°. Heat pot for about 30 minutes and carefully remove it. After dough has rested, drop it into the pot and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from pot and cool on wire rack. 


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