Thursday, September 15, 2011

crusty bread

With all this time on my heads and this gorgeous fall weather, what's a girl to do but bake?

I've been wanting to try again with yeasty breads but not had much luck in the past, but the fancy (read: cheap) pizza stone we found at bed bath and beyond bolstered my courage. You do all sorts of strange things for this bread, like heat the oven to 450 degrees and bake the stone for a while, and then once you put the bread on it, you dump a cup of hot water into your broiler pan to create a bunch of steam that will give a nice crunch to the bread. This also makes you jump back in terror as steam billows out of the oven and your gas stove protests with massive flames jumping out from beneath. 

But then, 20 min later, you have a gorgeous loaf!

So. From the NY Times:

total time: About 45 minutes plus about 3 hours’ for resting and rising

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting (and by dusting, I mean blizzarding. my dough was super sticky after rising) dough
Cornmeal. for the pan.
1. In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). 

Stir in flour, mixing until the spoon gets stuck. Dough will be quite loose.

Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours. Mine was exploding out of this massive bowl after just an hour, must be something about the yeast up here. It's like those little spongy pill-sized creatures you put in the bathroom sink before bed as a kid and then by morning they're a massive 6 inches and really ugly. Except this dough was really pretty and could not double as a bath toy. 

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. (I've got half of my batch in gallon sized zip-lock awaiting a dinner with our landlords tonight...and it's still rising!) 
When you're ready for some hot-from-the-oven deliciousness, sprinkle a whole lot of flour on the dough (and coat your hands) and cut off  a grapefruit-size piece wrestle off whatever you can grab as your hands get consumed with goo. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, and attempt to create a domed top by folding the edges underneath the dough. Put dough on pizza peel (or, you know. the counter covered with some parchment or a thin cutting board) sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it. You'll want to make sure you use lots of cornmeal and check for sticking while it rests because 'rests' here actually translates as 'balloons to 4x it's size'. 
3. Place broiler pan (or any pan) on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times (this is extremely satisfying). 
Slide onto stone. Good luck with that. 
Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap the steam which will billow out at you. 
Jump back and don't drop your pyrex measuring cup in your startled surprise. 
Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes.
Cool completely.  Eat immediately, slathered in butter. 
Yield: 4 loaves.

If you don't got a pizza stone: Make on oval out of the dough and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.

this final shot is from Jeanette's beautiful canon camera - she's kind enough to let me borrow it and capture some prettier pictures of delicious things!
yum yum yum!

1 comment:

  1. Holy Toledo. What a beautiful meal. It makes me want to make that stuff instead of job searching today!