My relationship with bread-making has been rocky at best. Any bread attempts were hit or miss, more often misses. For the longest time I was convinced that my biologocal make up was somehow detrimetal to bread rising, I could not make dough rise to save my life. Then, with the assistance of a bread machine and some strong encouragement from the boyfriend and instruction from his mother, I successfully made bread. Woo hoo! Full of new confidence, I have begun to experiment with bread made the old-fashioned way, and found success with that too. Who knew?! Like succeeding at anything, it has taken patience and persistence and flexibility. A life lesson in bread.
I found this recipe just yesterday and wanted to try it immediately. It uses science to make the best bread ever! You see, bread dough develops a good texture when the gluten molecules are aligned. You can make that happen by kneading it to develop the gluten, or you can - this is where it gets technical - you can let it sit for a long time. The trick is to make a very wet dough, as the molecules need wetness to move around in more easily and align themselves, like good little soldiers all in rows. The dough rises for 18 hours to start with, then another 3 after you shape the loaf. And it's cooked in an enclosed dish, something about needing the steam to make it crust over well. More science. I am not totally sure about WHY it works, but wow did it ever make an awesome loaf!! Science rocks!
The taste is excellent, likely because the dough has so much time to develop, and the texture is much like a professional artisan loaf. Now just to figure out how to store it without it either drying up or getting soggy....and how to stop eating at one slice!
adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
2 C multigrain bread flour
1 C all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 5/8 C water
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water and stir until blended; dough will be sticky and shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 18 hours at room temperature (I did mine before bed then came back to it the next day after work).
Dough is ready when surface is dotted with bubbles. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and fold it over on itself a few times. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, gently shape into a ball. Mine was way to soft and sticky to form a ball, it was more like The Blob. Shift it onto a floured peice of parchment paper, seam side down, and cover with a floured tea towl. Let it rise for another 3 hours; it might double in size or it might not. Mine didn't but it was closing time in Sherylyn's Kitchen so I turned on the oven to 450 and moved things along anyway.
Put a large covered pot in the oven (cast iron, pyrex, enamel, or ceramic, whatever you've got that's oven safe) ad let it heat up with the oven. Carefully remove hot pot fropm the oven. Do not forget that the lid heats up too; remove the hot lid, preferably with pot holders or some other protective gear. Turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up, and shake it a bit to distribute evenly. It might look a mess but that's ok. Cover with the lid and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until loaf is nicely browned.
Now, as much as it might pain you, do not cut into loaf immediately. Let it rest for a bit and allow it to de-steamify before slicing with a bread knife...I can never wait too long before sampling!
Nutritional info: Because there's no sugar or fat on the recipe, it's lower in calories per gram than most breads. Per 50g slice (about 1/15 of loaf), it's 80 calories, 0g fat, 3g protein, 17g carbs, 2g fibre, and 194g sodium.