Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snowy day

Today we’re being pounded by a huge snow storm, our second of the year already. Last year at this time, we were still waiting for snow and we had a ridiculously warm and green Christmas. Not this year.....

So, since we're stuck in the house for the day, I decided to try baking bread. I've only made bread once before, and it wasn't so great. All the kneading, rising, punching, etc. is a bit confusing and intimidating. This recipe's been making the rounds on my FoodWine list, and everyone was raving. Turns out that bread's not so difficult after all, not this method at least. There'll be more homemade bread in our future- this was so delicious and half the loaf is gone already! The olive-rosemary variation will be next weekend's project.

Published in: Cook's Illustrated


3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour -- plus additional for dusting work surface
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 ½ teaspoon table salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water -- at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager
1 tablespoon white vinegar


1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cook ing spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured, work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch long, l/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center regis ters 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Follow recipe for Almost No-Knead Bread, adding 4 ounces finely grated Parmesan about 2 cups) and 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves to flour mixture in step 1. Add l/2 cup pitted, chopped green olives with water in step 1.

Follow recipe for Almost N 0- Knead Bread, replacing 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour wim 1 cup (5 ounces) whole wheat flour. Stir 2 tablespoons honey into water before adding it to dry ingredients in step 1.

Follow recipe for Almost No-Knead Bread, adding l/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup toasted pecan halves to flour mixture in step 1.

1 comment:

Amber said...

Hi--This recipe looks great. I tried the NY Times recipe but felt it was "eh"----this one looks like it has more promise with the addition of beer and such. I'll try it and thank you for the post! I usually read Cooks Illustrated but I guess I missed this one.

Have fun in your snow... nothing here (whine)!