Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Give us this day our daily bread

Last year, my bread machine conked out after ten years, so for my birthday, I splurged on a new one. It is one of those convection bread makers that can handle a wide variety of recipes.

Shortly after getting my new machine, I received the latest issue of Mother Earth News, which if you are not familiar is a terrific resource for living simply. Topics include everything from organic gardening and homesteading to baking bread. This particular issue contained a recipe for NO KNEAD BREAD. Although it does require some planning ahead, the results are wonderful. Below is the recipe, as written:

No Knead, Dutch Oven Bread

1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
3 c. all purpose flour, plus more for dusting. You can use white, wheat or a combination of the two. *
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Cornmeal for dusting

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Mix in the flour and salt until blended. The dough will be sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 8 hours, preferably 12-18 hours at room temperature, about 70 degrees. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Fold over on itself a couple of times, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for about 15 minutes. Coat a clean dish towel with flour or cornmeal. Put the seam side down on towel, dust again. Cover with another towel and let rest 1-2 more hours or until the dough has doubled in size. At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, preheat oven to 475 degrees and put a 6-8 quart covered pot in the oven as it heats. (I use my Club dutch oven: an ebay find that I now can't live without.). When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven, lift the lid. Slide the bread off the towel and turn it over into the pot. Give the pot a firm shake to settle the dough. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake 15 minutes more until the loaf is browned. Remove the bread from the dutch oven and cool on a rack for at least an hour before slicing.

I have made this bread many times now and have experimented with the ratio of white to wheat flour. My boys prefer a lighter bread, so I usually use half white (King Arthur Organic Flour) and half wheat. By the way, if you are looking for a local, organic source for flour. Randy and Shirley from Hampshire Farms began selling their own flours, grains, beans and produce at Eastern Market a little more than a year ago. They grow and mill their own grain and always have whole wheat bread and pastry flours as well as spelt flour. They also sell eggs and chickens when they are available. They are a family farm that is also certified organic.