Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Easiest Bread Recipe

This recipe was originally posted in the New York Times and created by Jim Lahey (any Canadians out there find this as amusing as I do?). You can find the original article and recipe, including a how-to video here.

It does take a little bit of time to prepare the dough but most of that time consists of the dough just
sitting out to rise. The actual making of it is very quick and super easy. Trust me it's worth it!

I actually liked this recipe so much I made two loaves in one week. Don't judge it wasn't all for me. The first one I made I added some rosemary and cranberries which was met with a great sigh from my boyfriend. So upon request I whipped up a plain white as well which we've been dunking in a bit of fig balsamic. Delicious!

The trick to getting that lovely looking, crunchy crust is a super hot pot. I don't have a dutch oven or a cast iron pot so I had to improvise. I used a big soup pot and covered the handles in tinfoil, voila! I did change the baking process a little bit the second time around to get an even better crust. Instead of heating the pot to 450F I upped it to 500 and then dropped the temperature down once the bread was inside. Both loaves were great but the second one was just a bit better so I'll be using that technique in future. I've posted my slightly updated version of the Lahey recipe below.

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt

1. Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl. Add 1 5/8 cups of water until the dough is pretty sticky. Make sure all of the flour is incorporated to prevent floury bits after it's been cooked. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit out until you're ready to bake it the next day. Make sure to keep it at room temperature as this will help it rise. Leave it for about 12-18 hours. The dough will have expanded and the surface will be covered in bubbles. 

2. Place a piece of parchment paper on whatever surface you're going to work on and dust it with enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Pour your dough onto this surface and work it into a ball shape by folding it over onto itself. Cover again with the seran wrap from your bowl or a cotton towel and let sit for at least another hour or two.

3. Half an hour before your bread is ready turn your oven up to 500F. While the oven is heating up place your pot inside to heat up as well. Once the oven is at 500 and your pot is nice and hot place your bread inside by picking it up with the parchment paper underneath and dropping it in. Put everything back in the oven and drop the temperature down to 450F. 

4. Set your timer for 30 minutes. After half an hour has passed take the lid off and leave the dough to bake for another 15-20 minutes. Once your bread is looking nice and crispy golden take out of the oven and place on a rack to cool. You'll hear it crackle as it cools down. Make sure to let your fresh loaf cool down before cutting into it. You'll know it's ready when it's no longer crackling and room temperature to touch. 

5. Enjoy!

Don't be afraid to play around with different flavour combinations. The possibilities are endless. 

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