Thursday, April 16, 2020

Everyone is making bread right now

We are living in very unique times right now, to say the least. The ability to go to the grocery store or bakery on a daily basis has no longer become a norm, but rather a limited experience. In these times, we are all trying to manage on just the necessities to get by. And one of those necessities that has been around for mankind survival for centuries, is none other than the lovely loaf of bread.

More often than not, when you ask people what they are doing in their around the clock hours at home these days, I'd say maybe eight out of ten are making bread.

Now I already had a homemade bread recipe and process, but these days I have had the time to perfect it. A friend passed along Mark Bittman's Food & Wine No-Knead Bread recipe, and it has become my favorite. It's super simple, the only caveat is that you need time, but these days, time at home is aplenty...

4 cups Flour 
1/2 teaspoon Instant Yeast
2 teaspoons Salt
2 cups Water (at 70 degrees)
Dutch Oven *

In a large bowl, mix together the first three dry ingredients - flour, yeast, and salt. 

Heat the water on the stovetop or in the microwave. Test the temperature with a thermometer.

Combine the water with the dry ingredients, mix together until well blended. The dough will be slightly sticky.

Let the dough rest for 24 hours, give or take. You will see the mixture start to rise and bubble.

Two hours prior to cooking, take out the dough and form a ball, or whatever shape of loaf you desire. You will probably need to use some extra flour. Place the dough on a flour surface (countertop, pizza peel, or plate) and let rest.

Place the Dutch Oven in the oven and heat to 450 degrees, about 30 minutes.

Using a heating pad, remove the lid off the Dutch Oven and carefully move your dough into the Dutch Oven. Replace the lid on top and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove lid and cook for another 20 minutes. And that's it!! Perfect, beautiful, homemade bread.

Yields a happy 6 people, half the recipe to feed 4

* The Dutch Oven is the true new addition to the process, and I will tell you that I tested this recipe and other recipes with a Dutch Oven and a Pizza Stone and the Dutch Oven works miracles!

NOTE: If you want a pretty "ear" on top of the bread (the cuts on top), then using a knife, gently cut a centimeter thick tic-tac-toe board on the top of the loaf prior to placing in the Dutch Oven.

FINAL NOTE: If you are looking for inspiration to get motivated, check out Michael Pollan's "Air" Episode on Netflix's Cooked series. I am hoping to master his recipe next...