Since returning from Calabria, Italy I’ve gone a little nuts. When I should have been catching up on much-needed sleep and laundry, I’ve spent this past weekend in the kitchen changing some really big food misconceptions I’ve been living with for way too long. It all started on day two of our trip when we spent a glorious afternoon in our host’s mom’s house, kneading and baking bread at her side. It was one of those moments when you feel like everything is so simple and exactly as it should be, like really good fresh bread.
- How fabulous is she? This modern day renaissance woman also hacked down all the twigs used to fuel the fire with a hatchet.
So, now I’ll admit it. Before that experience, I had this really weird thing about people making their own bread. In my small little mind it was like making sushi at home: something better left to professionals. Well, we all know how this story ends, as it so often does: Lauren wrong again. Turns out, I had the best time gallivanting in my little Italian kitchen yet. Bread is so easy peasy, but made me feel like Super Woman at the same time. As Catherine says, “I’m high on life, guys.” It felt more like severe bloatation, but after digesting my success a smidge, it tasted like sweet sweet yeasty victory.
For my first time out the gate I wanted a really easy recipe so I went for Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread, courtesy of Mark Bittman from the NYT, with a few amendments:
Easy Peasy No Knead Bread
Courtesy of Jim Lahey via Mark Bittman
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (active-dry)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
1. In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees, but don’t stress about the temperature). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be really loose and wet. Again, don’t fret. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, allowing a little air to pass through. Let dough rise at room temperature for at least 2 hours, up to 5.
2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks (!). When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and hands. With a serrated knife, cut off a grapefruit-size piece for a small loaf, or if you’d rather make rolls, use a lime-size piece. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough bumpy side down on a floured surface; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven and pizza stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heating stone for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a stone, you should get one (ha). You can use a loaf pan or any non-stick pan.
4. Slash the top of each dough mound with a serrated knife three times and slide onto stone. Pour one cup water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely (if you have that sort of will power).