Friday, October 23, 2015

YOU KNEAD THIS RECIPE!

  1. I've been knee-deep in kitchen renovation hell, so will fill you in on that drama when I'm not so angry I want to toss my computer into the Hudson River, but for now I need a break and a pick-me-up! One of the many things I've learned from my significantly talented other half is how to make mouth-watering bread.  The best part; this recipe requires little effort and no special techniques or equipment, so what's not to love?  With the holidays approaching faster than a stomach ache after bad Mexican food, you'll want to keep this recipe in your repertoire for last minute meals, great appetizers (perfectly served with a little olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper) or even as a supporting role in your Thanksgiving dinner! 
  2. Mark Bittman's cookbook, "How To Cook Everything" is one of my go-to favorites, and this no-knead bread recipe of his first appeared in the New York Times then was featured on many of his appearances on the Today Show.  While the rushed, forced-joviality nonsense that goes on during most morning show cooking segments makes me want to scratch my face off, this one is worth paying attention to.  We've made it when we've had a party of twenty-five and for just the two of us. 
  3. THE INGREDIENTS: 3 cups all purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.   
  4. THE PROCESS: In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  5. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
  6. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  7. 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. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. 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.