One of my goals this year was to begin making bread. The process of making bread is something that holds wonderful memories from my childhood. Every week my dad would spend hours making his own bread. It was quite a process. He would begin mixing a wet ingredient base of the bread on the stove and then once it cooled he would cover and knead it in flour. It would take nearly the entire day to create.
It left an impact upon me as a child, as I would play in the kitchen and watch my dad create this bread. I had set the goal at a young age that I would learn to make bread as well. I wanted to be able to provide this simple and basic element for my own life and for those around me. However, bread isn’t that simple. Sure it includes simple ingredients, but can be combined in many different ways and was always shown to me as full day of hard work. So, when a chef friend of ours told me about the no knead method I was intrigued, and felt it would be the perfect place to begin my bread making journey.
I finally took the plunge and made my first loaf using a recipe from Mother Earth News, here is the recipe. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here. You can find more recipes from them and other bread recipes on their site as well if you would like to adventure a little more.
The recipe is extremely easy and creates a rustic style loaf. All you need is a little patience and a Dutch oven and the five simple ingredients below.
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting. You may use white, whole wheat or a combination of the two.
1 1/2 tsp salt
Organic Cornmeal for dusting
I also wanted to try something new with this one so I added some dill. This recipe is a perfect base if you want to get creative and place other things into the bread. The dill was really nice especially since it was something I placed on the top before going into the oven instead of into the loaf.
Making the bread involves you being present and close especially after the first rise. I typically make this on the weekends while I am cleaning the house or doing other things around the house. Here is the process:
1. In a large bowl mix the yeast and water and allow the yeast to dissolve in the water. Add the flour and salt and stir until well combined. The dough will be shaggy and sticky (see the image above the ingredients for an idea of how it will look). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for at least 8 hours at room temperature (about 70 degrees). You can let it set longer though. One time I think it set for 20-22 hours.
2. You will know the dough is ready when it is dotted with bubbles and is raised. At this point, flour a work surface and also sprinkle some onto the dough and your hands. Pull the dough from the bowl. Once out of the bowl fold it over on itself once or twice and form it into a ball. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
3. Once 15 minutes has passed, generously coat a clean dish towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal (cornmeal is really awesome!) Once onto the towel, cover with another towel and allow it to rise for about 1 to 2 hours. You will know the dough is ready when it has doubled in size and will spring back when poked.
4. At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready to be baked, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6 to 8-quart Dutch oven into the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Sprinkle a small amount of cornmeal in the base of the dutch oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but that’s OK. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes. You can add a little more cornmeal to the top and this is also when I added the dill as well.
5. Cover and bake for the bread for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
The bread is great to slice up with appetizers for a party, a mid-day snack, or to dip into soup.