Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Quick and Easy Bread that won't disappoint...

Some of the ladies at work are having issues with yeast. Not sure why or how they can't get a decent rise  but I have a great recipe for a really crusty, great loaf of bread. You will need a very clean  hot oven (450) some parchment paper and a nice cast iron dutch oven (5 or 6 qt). Follow the recipe below. I doubled it for my oven but used just one packet of yeast (yeast is yeast large or small amounts should not matter.)

Yeast. I buy the 2 pound bulk yeast at Sam's. One goes into the fridge after opening in a sealed plastic container, the other in the cupboard. It takes about a year to use it all and it always rises for me. I don't fuss too much with sponges or proofing. I use lukewarm water or even ice water to rise in the fridge overnight. Even cool water will get a rise after a bit just slower.

I used my Kitchen Aid to mix this cause its really wet dough but you can easily mix it with a large spoon. Very high hydration gives the crust the steam to crisp while baking and creates a great crumb but the bread took longer to bake at double the volume. I always use a thermometer probe to about 200 degrees. So, Tara and Mel and whoever else...this bread's for you.

Watch out while cutting, that crust will fly! This is a double batch. Crusty outside and holey in the crumb. The toast is crazy good. Chewey and crunchy.

Speedy No-Knead Bread

3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 warm water
1 packet ( 1/4 ounce) instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Oil as needed.

1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir
until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough
rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once
or twice. (This where I used some parchment to line the bowl to make the transfer easy.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more. (I put the dough in a salad bowl lined with the parchment)
3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a
6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as
it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. ( I lifted the parchment and all and dropped it into the hot pot. )  OR you can do this:

Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough
is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.

4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30
minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: 1 big loaf.

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