Easiest homemade bread ever

Thank the Lord, it finally feels a teeny-tiny bit like summer here in Seattle. The past couple of weeks have been sunny, and it even got up to 79 or 80 last Friday. This kind of weather just makes me want to sit outside and drink gin and tonics all afternoon long. Good thing I can’t afford that! Anyway, on to the main event:

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Homemade bread is by no means an exclusively Southern thing, but since I haven’t made anything else (that is, made anything I remembered to take pictures of) in the last week, y’all are getting a bread recipe. It’s the no-knead bread popularized in the New York Times last year, and the connection for me is that the only homemade bread I ever came across—before I became a human bread-making machine in high school thanks to Jamie Oliver’s recipe—was Mema’s (maternal grandmother). It still counts as homemade even if she used a bread machine!

I remember her taking a loaf out of the machine, cutting into it with what seemed like a gigantic serrated knife, and spreading lots of her and Papa’s homemade pear preserves on top. Not many things can beat a slice of her pound cake for breakfast, but that is one of them. One of these days I’ll get around to tracking down the recipe for their famous pear preserves, but for now, enjoy some (unbelievably easy) no-knead bread.

I like to start making this recipe on Friday afternoon, which times it perfectly to bake late Saturday morning when I’m on my second (or third) cup of coffee, and reading on the sofa with LB.

No-knead bread

*adapted from the New York Times. Makes one 1.5-pound round loaf, about 8 inches across or so.

3 cups all-purpose flour (I use half regular flour, half whole wheat—so, 1 1/2 cups of each)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cups water
flour for dusting, etc.

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In a large-ish bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, and salt.

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Stir in the water. Mix everything together; the dough should be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with Saran Wrap. Let it sit for at least 12 hours, preferably 18, in a warm room.

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Dough is ready when it has little bubbles all over the surface:

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Lightly flour a work surface, then take the dough out of the bowl and fold it over itself two or three times. Cover it loosely with Saran Wrap and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Generously coat a cotton tea towel (not terrycloth) with flour. Dust your hands with flour and quickly shape it into a ball. Place the dough, seam side down, on the towel, and then dust the top of the ball with more flour. Cover it with another cloth towel and let it sit for 2 hours. It’s ready when the dough has doubled in size.

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About 30 minutes before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450. Place a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot in the oven (lid and all) while the oven heats up. When the dough is ready, slide your hand under it and place it, seam side up, into the pot. Shake the pot once or twice if it looks horribly uneven. Put the lid on the pot and bake for 30 min; then, take the lid off and bake for 15 to 30 more minutes, until the top is nice and brown. Cool on a rack.

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I really like to eat this bread dipped in olive oil, preferably with some goat cheese as well. But it’s good sandwich bread, too (I can’t wait until tomatoes come in, because a tomato sandwich would be great on this bread!) and makes delicious toast–perfect for pear preserves.

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*As an aside, I made a really great, super Southern dish last weekend for a cookout, but completely forgot to take any pictures because I was in a hurry to fix it. I’ll make it again, hopefully this weekend, and share it with y’all! Also, if there’s anything you’d like to suggest for me to make and post on here, just shoot me an email!

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