meatless monday: fresh bread!

[ok this isn’t a meatless meal, per se, but a starting the week off with a fresh loaf of bread yields endless possibilities!]So in addition to using pumpkin in every way possible, I had another goal for last weekend’s baking extravaganza: conquer my fear of yeasted things. And in the informal survey I conducted (mostly via gchat), I found that most other people are afraid of such things as well. 

Well, I’m here to report that 1. i survived and 2. while i’m in no way any way proficient in rising dough, my results seemed pretty acceptable.

Feat numero uno: Fresh Bread. Created COMPLETELY by hand. Literally. Not even a whisk touched the raw flour. And it looks pretty good, right?  So basically all you do is mix it all together, let it sit, smoosh it around, let it sit, put it in the oven, and yer done.  Easy peasey, right? Sort of. 

The most important ingredients in this recipe are time and patience. Two things I don’t usually have much of. But, with some planning, it all came out!

Some people whip this up loaf after loaf, almost daily. Seriously? I can’t even remember to water a plant every day. But this bread is quite tasty. And, I recommend conquering it if only so you too can experience the immense satisfaction of  conquering a fear. Or jump out a plane, if that’s your thing. 

Almost No-knead Rustic Bread

Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose, unbleached flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 1/4 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs water, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs mild flavored lager (code word for cheap beer)
  • 1 tbs white vinegar

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, yeast and salt and whisk them together. In a large measuring container, combine the water, vinegar and beer and whisk them together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold them together with a sturdy spatula until a shaggy dough ball is formed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I used a shower cap I reserve for all my baking needs) and let it sit on the counter at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours. The longer it sits, the more richer flavor the dough will yield.
  2. After the rest period, knead the dough 10 to 15 times (you can do this by hand or with your stand mixer).
  3. Once the dough is ready, place a 12 by 18 inch sheet of parchment paper (sprayed with cooking spray) in a 10 inch skillet. Place the dough in the parchment paper lined skillet and cover again with plastic wrap (or your handy shower cap) and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours.
  4. minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread, place an oven rack at the lowest position. Place a 6 to 8 inch quart Dutch oven with its lid on the rack and heat oven to 500 degrees.
  5. When the dough has fully risen, lightly flour the top of it and make a 6 inch long, 1/2 inch deep slit along the top. Using oven mitts, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. Pick up the dough from the skillet by the parchment paper and carefully lower it into the Dutch oven. Let any excess paper hang over the edge of the Dutch oven. Put the lid back on the pot and place it in the oven.
  6. Reduce the temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid from the pot and continue baking the bread until it is golden brown and an instant read thermometer reads 210 when pushed into the center.
  7. Remove the bread from the pot by the parchment paper and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 2 hours (or until you can’t take it anymore).

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