Wow! What an incredible week I have had here on the blog! Those of you who have been here lately are probably here because you found me on the Word Press Freshly Pressed page. How exciting that was! And what profound change in my blog traffic for those two days. Thank you to everyone who visited and read about my muffins, It is really amazing to know how many people are out there! I was so blessed and honored by so many of you who took the time to say hello and to offer compliments. I thank you for that! It really lifted me up! Thank you to everyone, and to you who are here reading today about this unbelievable bread.
So, today I’m writing to you about bread. I was not planning to write about bread, I was going to write about cake. I’m sure there is a joke in there somewhere about “let them eat cake” and I agree, “let them eat cake…. I’m eating BREAD!.” Bread. Bread. Bread. Bread is such an issue isn’t it? I always say there’s just no good bread in my neighborhood. There is one place that opened down the road that sells artisan baked bread. And this particular Baker has delicious bread. But it’s expensive, and I really don’t like going every day. Most breads that I enjoy eating go bad after one day- so it IS a daily dilemma for me. When I go to my normal grocery store such as Kroger, there is no bread there. That place is a bread desert. They try to cook bread but it’s not right. It’s soft, it’s mushy, it’s gross. One of my other favorite stores have it, but they are a 15 minute drive. It’s a problem. I want to make bread. I LONG to make GREAT bread!
Yes, yes I’ve been making bread. I’ve made a few loaves. I’ve made a cinnamon raisin bread, I’ve made honey wheat bread, (by accident) I’ve made breadsticks, pitas and crackers of all sorts and of course the biscuits! But things changed in my life today. Today I found out I can make bread that is better than I can buy. I’m going to say that again because it’s true and I believe it. I can easily bake better bread than I can buy. The good news is so can you!
Somehow a few days ago I found Mark Bittman’s recipe via youtube video of no knead bread. He was at Sullivan Street bakery in New York making bread with the Jim Lahey. They demonstrated in the video how easy it is to make this bread. I watched the video couple of times and went Googling to find the recipe written down. I found it here. My 1st batch did not work. This recipe calls for 1 5/8 cups of water. I mixed my dry ingredients with 1 5/8 cups of water with total confidence that it would work, no problem. I covered it with plastic wrap, set it on top of my toaster (the toaster was off but I did turn on my undercounter lights.)That was a mistake. 18 hours later it had been too warm. It was a gloppy watery mess. The truth is it didn’t look right when I first mixed it up but I went on. Maybe it’s because were down here in Houston and it’s so humid, I don’t know. I made a change though- the second batch I used only 1 1/2 cups water. It was perfect!
This is the easiest beautiful bread in the world to make. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am. I probably will make this bread every day. EVERYDAY. I’m not kidding. No. I. Am. Not. Kidding.
Here’s what to do:
Mix the flour the salt and the yeast together in a medium-size bowl. Use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients. Pour the water into the dry ingredients and mix with your hands until shaggy and just barely coming together. You don’t have to make sure it’s all perfect. Please don’t try to make sure it’s perfect just leave it alone. (Watch the video to see what I mean. My 1st batch I tried to mix too much, of course it had too much water in my opinion) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and sit it aside for 12 to 18 hours. Heavily flour your work surface, pour the mixture out of the bowl onto the counter. Sprinkle some more flour on top and on your hands so that the dough does not stick to you. Fold the dough over itself once or twice and then cover loosely with your plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. It seems like this step isn’t really necessary. What difference could 15 min. make? It makes a huge difference! The dough starts to bubble and get happy!
While you’re waiting for the dough to get happy for 15 minutes- take a smooth flat surfaced “cotton flour sack- type” tea towel and heavily coat it with flour or bran or coarse cornmeal. After 15 minutes has passed, remove the plastic from your dough. Sprinkle your hands with flour, gently press the dough down into a circle. Don’t be rough here! Just gently press it down so that you don’t burst the bubbles that we spent so much time creating. Sprinkle the dough with flour and fold the dough bottom to top, top to bottom, right and left into the center- shaping a ball. Place this ball seam side down on top of the floured tea towel. Sprinkle the top of your dough with more bran or corn meal. Place another tea towel lightly on top- then place one more tea towel on top of that. Let dough rest and rise for 2 hours. It will double in size.
Once you have put your dough to bed for an hour and a half or so- put a 6 to 8 quart covered cast-iron pot, or your favorite Dutch oven that has oven safe handles into the oven. Preheat the oven and the pot with lid at 450° for at least 30 minutes before the dough is ready. When the dough is ready carefully remove the pot from the oven, remove the lid, place the dough seam side up in the pot. Work quickly flip it using the tea towel.(watch the video for a good lookie lou at this… it matters a little) It will look like a mess in there, you can shake the pot a little to try and even things out, but no worries! You’ll see… amazing things happen in that oven! Put the lid on and bake your bread in the oven at 450° for 30 min. After 30 minutes take the lid off and bake the bread for 15 to 30 minutes longer. My oven is kind of hot – next time I will bake the bread may be 25 minutes with the lid and 10 minutes without the lid you’ll have to decide according to your oven.
This is what you get! Beautiful, chewy, crunchy tasty ciabatta bread! Enjoy!