It's day 2 of Bread Week.
TAKE YOUR TASTEBUDS
ON A WORLD TOUR
I love to make bread!
I also love to eat home made bread.
For years I tried and tried and tried to bake a bread that had
a thick chewy crust with big holes on the inside and a moist
interior - a European style artisan bread.
You know, you have heard all of the "tricks" too -
place a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven,
or spritz the oven with water, or place ice cubes on the
floor of the oven. Well, if you are like me, none of those
methods produced the bread I was looking for.
Then one day, my friend Kathy (who loves to cook and is a
fabulous cook) gave me the recipe for
this bread. Her brother in law had found it in a newspaper article
as Sullivan St. Bakery Bread. You can see the recipe online
by clicking here. It was developed by the owner
of Sullivan St. Baker, Jim Lahey.
This was it, after years of so - so bread. This had all of
the right textures - crisp chewy thick crust,
moist interior with large holes. We have twisted
a few things but it is fabulous. Hope you try it, you will love it!
This is the step that you cannot skip, so you do have to plan ahead.
You have to mix the bread up and let it sit covered with
plastic wrap on the counter overnight. He says to mix in one
bowl and transfer to another greased bowl. I have done it both by
transferring it to a greased bowl and by leaving it in the same
bowl. It sticks a little less when you put it in a new greased bowl.
It will seem kind of shaggy when you mix it that night, but in
the morning it will look like this - all wet and bubbly.
You will want to place about 1/4 C. flour on the counter and
generously flour your hands. Then
gently scoop the bread dough onto the flour. Top with another
generous amount of flour and gently fold it back onto itself
a couple of times, beginning to form a ball.
Now it will appear like this. You want to be gentle to preserve
those wonderful air bubbles - don't work it much.
Place the ball, seam side down onto a piece of parchment
paper that is dusted with corn meal. (This is a little trick
Kathy taught me from another recipe - it makes the transfer
of the dough a lot easier and continues to preserve our precious
Generously dust the top of the dough and a cotton tea towel with
flour and cover the dough. Let rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until
double. Don't use a terry cloth towel as it will stick to the dough. This
is a slow rising dough! (Don't rush this part.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and then place an enamel coated
pan with a lid in the oven to heat for 30 minutes. After 30
minutes remove the pan from the oven. Take the lid off and lift
the parchment paper and place it into the hot pan.
Replace the lid (you want to capture all the moisture)
and put it back in the hot oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and bake an additional 5-10 minutes if desired.
(I usually do just 5.)
I used a Le Creuset pan (that I got for a bargain a few years
ago at Costco), but you can find enamel coated pans at
Home Goods and even Wal Mart. You will need about a 6-8 quart
The plastic handles on Le Creuset will not tolerate the high
heat for this bread.
Guess what I found at Sur La Table the other day. They
got wise and now are selling stainless steel knobs for $11.95,
so I got a new one and replaced the plastic one.
They should know better! My Cuisinart enamel pan
came with a metal handle.
Lift the loaf out by using the paper. Peel the paper off and
let it cool on a cooling rack.
You can cook yours longer to get a darker crust, but I love it
Slice when cool (if you can wait that long - I have a hard time
with that), or break the bread into pieces (my kids love that).
Crusty Artisanal Bread Recipe
Mix with a wooden spoon in a large ceramic bowl:
3 C. all purpose flour
1 5/8 C. warm water (slightly more than the original recipe)
1/4 tsp. rapid rise yeast (yes that is only 1/4 tsp.
his recipe doesn't call for rapid rise, but I have
tried both and like the texture of rapid rise best)
1 1/4 tsp. salt
Mix the ingredients together in a bowl using a wooden
spoon or spatula. It will seem quite shaggy. Transfer to
a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave out
on the counter overnight.
Place 1/4 C. flour on counter and gently turn out dough
onto counter. Top with another generous sprinkling of
flour. Turn it in on itself several times, forming a ball.
Use generous amounts of flour on your hands as it is
Place on a piece of parchment paper dusted with cornmeal.
Dust with flour and dust a cotton tea towel with flour, then
cover the dough with the towel. Let rise for 2 to 21/2 hours
or until doubled in size. Don't rush this. It is a slow rising
dough with so little yeast.
The last 45 minutes or so, preheat your oven to 450. When
the oven is heated, place a 6-8 quart enamel coated cast iron
pan with lid into the oven for 30 minutes. Don't rush this
either. The pan with the lid
creates an environment for the bread like
a mini steam oven that is used in
Europe to create these artisanal breads and you don't have
to spend $20,000 to have your own! All of the moisture that
is escaping from the bread as it bakes is captured inside the
enamel pan with its lid on. I have tried an uncoated dutch
oven and didn't think it worked as well. He says you can
also use a Pyrex or ceramic baking dish as long as it is
big enough (I haven't tried those.)
Remove the lid and bake an additional 5-10 minutes if
desired. This gives a tougher, darker crust.
I usually don't leave
mine in very long, maybe 5 minutes.
Remove from pan by lifting the paper. Peel off paper
and let cool on a rack.
The crunchy crust is best that day. You will notice that
commercially baked artisanal bread is packaged in bags
that have little holes punched in them to keep the crust
crunchy. If you place it in a regular plastic bag the
crust will not retain its classic crispness. Of course, if
you keep this kind of bread in the commercial bags
with perforations, it
dries out, so eat it that day!
Serve however you desire. I pictured the bread with assorted
cheese on this French Cheeseboard Tablescape.
If you haven't tried the Manchego cheese (the back cheese with the
black coating) from Costco, you have to try it. It goes great
with the fresh bread. It is so nutty and buttery.
My sister Jean taught me how easy it is to clean up after
making bread if you use a dough scraper for the flour and
the dough stuck on your counter. Great idea!
Artisanal European style breadmaking
is within your reach. Give it a try and let
me know how it worked for you.
Hope you enjoy Bread Week.
I have already had people report back and say they have
made some bread! Keep it up.