The Perfect Loaf – Weekend Recipe

Since it’s the weekend, I thought it might be nice to share a recipe. And what better than a loaf of homemade bread. It warms the home, warms the heart – and warms your belly! Yes, I said it. And this one doesn’t require kneading.

The great news is, this one calls for regular flour but I always substitute at least 50% whole wheat. That way you can feel a little less guilty when you reach for a slice mid-afternoon. The only thing is it won’t rise quite as much, and makes for a slightly denser loaf – but I personally love it that way. Now, I am by no means a connoisseur of bread making, in fact this is the only type of bread I’ve ever really attempted. I haven’t had to switch to something else since this works perfectly for me, every time. It’s especially amazing when fresh out of the oven – as are all baked goods (and slathered with butter, of course). You’ll need a covered pot or dutch oven to bake this in, as well as two clean tea towels and your kitchen timer handy.

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The one downside to this loaf is not the complexity of the process, only the length of time needed- which is why it’s perfect for a weekend. The dough must be prepared the night before and left to rise for 12-18 hours. It literally takes 2 minutes to prepare the dough, cover it in plastic, and wait until morning. You need to trust me that it’s well worth the wait. Credit for this recipe goes to the New York Times, adapted from Jim Lahey at Sulllivan Street Bakery.

THE NIGHT BEFORE
Mix together in a large bowl:

3 cups flour (I do half unbleached white, half whole wheat)

1/4 tsp instant yeast

1 1/4 tsp salt

Add 1 and 5/8 cups of water, and stir until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 12 hours minimum at room temperature, or until the surface of the dough is dotted with bubbles.

NEXT MORNING:

-Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle a little more flour over it and fold it over on itself one or two times. Cover loosely with the plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes.
-Cover your hands with flour, and quickly form the dough into a ball. Generously coat a tea towel (not terry cloth) with cornmeal (can also use more flour or wheat bran); put dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. In that time it should double in size and spring back to the touch.
-At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, heat your oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6 to 8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats.
-When dough is ready, remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the tea towel and turn dough over into the pot, seam side up. Shake the pan once or twice to distribute it evenly in the pot. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake an additional 15 to 30 minutes until golden brown (15 works for me, but it can vary by oven). Cool on a rack- slice soon & enjoy!

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “The Perfect Loaf – Weekend Recipe

  1. Food photography definitely takes a lot of trial & error, but is well worth it when it starts to come together like you want it to. I’m taking a workshop with Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle et Vanille this weekend actually, I’m very excited to learn more tips about styling from her. (cannellevanille.com)

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