Thursday, March 31, 2011
Become a Domestic Goddess
My good friend Matney gave me this recipe and with this recipe she told me she had officially become domestic goddess. Now you might be wondering what is so amazing about this recipe that someone would become a domestic goddess just by making it? First of all it is a bread recipe. If you have never tackled making yeast bread it can be kind of intimidating. Second it tastes SO good so it must be challenging right? You see that is the secret here. This bread is so easy to make and has such great results. To top it all off you can even store some of the dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and use it as you like. I am so glad my friend became a domestic goddess and decided to invite me a long. This recipe will be one I make over and over again!
Artisan Free Form Bread
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast
1 1/2 tbsp coarse kosher or sea salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all purpose white flour (I added a cup or two of white whole wheat flour)
Cornmeal for pizza peel
1. Heat the water to just a little warmer than body temperature (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Add yeast and salt to water in a 5-quart bowl or preferably, in a resealable, lidded container (not airtight - use container with gasket or lift a corner). Don't worry about getting it all to dissolve.
3. Mix in the flour by gently scooping it up, then leveling the top of the measuring cup with a knife; don't pad down. Mix with a wooden spoon or a high capacity food processor with a dough attachment or a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook, until uniformly moist. If hand-mixing becomes too difficult, use very whet hands to press together. Don't knead! This step is done in a matter of minutes and yields a wet dough loose enough to conform to the container.
4. Cover loosely. Do not use screw topped jars, which could explode from trapped gases. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flatten on top), approximately two hours, depending on temperature. Longer rising times, up to about five hours will not harm the result. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and easier to work with than room-temperature dough. I recommend refrigerating the dough at least three hours before shaping a loaf. And relax! You don't need to monitor doubling or tripling of volume as in traditional recipes.
On Baking Day
5. Prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it (or a cutting board or cookie sheet without edges) liberally with cornmeal to prevent loaf from sticking to it when you slit it into the oven.
Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour then cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit sized) piece with a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom of four "sides," rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go, until the bottom is a collection of four bunched end. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it doesn't need to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf will flatten out during resting and baking.
6. Place the ball on the pizza peel. Let it rest uncovered for about 40 minutes. Depending on the dough's age, you may see little rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking.
7. Twenty minutes before baking preheat oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on another shelf.
8. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing, serrated knife to pass without sticking. Slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross, scallop or tick-tack-toe patter into the top. (This helps the bread expand during baking.)
9. With a forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour about a cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned and firm to the touch. With wet dough, there's little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack, for best flavor, texture and slicing. The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.
10. Refrigerate the remaining dough in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next two weeks. You will find that even one day's storage improved the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the two week period. Cut off and shape loaves as you need them. The dough can also be frozen in 1 pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.