Now that we've put the garden to bed, its time to crank up the oven, and one of my favorite things to bake is bread. I saw a recipe recently in the New York Times that intrigued me: No Knead Bread. (Any by the way, the Times has had some really interesting pre-Thanksgiving holiday articles. See the Heaven in A Pie Pan article.)
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind kneading bread, or making it, especially in my big KitchenAid mixer. What appealed to me about this recipe was the baking method. The bread is baked in a pre-heated cast iron or enamel pan, which was supposed to create a wonderful crust. I had to try it.
I didn't actually follow the recipe --those who know me well won't find that surprising. No, I wanted to use a sourdough starter I have going, so I boldly plunged right in and adapted, using my recipe and the article's baking method. My recipe:
2 c warm water
1 t yeast (scant)
1 t barley malt powder
Stir the above together, and let sit until the yeast is creamy looking. Add
1 c starter
2 t salt
Stir together, then add
2 c stone ground whole weat flour
3 c bread flour
Mix then knead in the mixer. The dough should be sticky enough to cling to the bottom of the bowl, yet pull away from the sides. Knead for 8-10 minutes, then put into an oiled bowl to rise until doubled.
Punch down dough, knead and shape into a tight ball. Let rise in a bowl lined with a well-floured towel, until doubled, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450˚F, preheating a 6-8 quart cast iron or enamel casserole dish at the same time. No grease or oil is necessary in the pan.
When dough is ready to bake, carefully remove casserole dish from the oven. Gently turn dough into the pan; it will deflate a bit but don't worry. Cover the casserole and return immediately to the oven, bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes until browned and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Mine needed only 15 minutes.
Remove from casserole and cool, then dig in. It is delicious! The crust is crisp and chewey, not too thick, just right and with a real brick oven taste, with a perfect crumb. MMMMM.