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This issue: Bread 101 (To view in your web browser, click here)

Previous issue: Essential Spices and Spice Blends

Upcoming issue:  Bread 201

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VOLUME 41

Bread 101 - The No-Work Bread Revolution

 

In this world there is no aroma more inviting or appetizing than that of baking bread. Further, there is only one good type of bread – and that is bread that is still warm from the oven. Mmm… add a little cheese, a good olive oil, and a few thin slices of prosciutto and you have a true feast.

A few years ago, a revolution began among the foodie community with the popularizing of the so-called “no-work” bread.  Simply put, it allows anyone, even a six year old, to create an out of this world, thick crusted, open crumbed, artisan loaf with practically zero effort and no skill.  In this short newsletter, we will get you on your way to becoming a master baker by having you bake your own loaf of bread by following an easy recipe.  Trust us, it’s worth it!  The goal is to get you really interested in baking bread and realize that you can accomplish superb bread at home.  In the next article (Bread 201), we’re going to examine bread in more detail and lay the foundation for bread mastery.

 

 

Googling “no-work bread” yields over 96 million results!  The recipe we've laid out below comes from one of our favourite authors, New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, a.k.a. The Minimalist (we’ve been selling his book called “How to Cook Everything” for the last two years and highly recommend getting your hands on a copy). In 2006 Mr. Bittman documented the bread recipe of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City.  Although the concept of "kneadless" bread is thousands of years old, that article kick-started the resurgence of this bread technique.   In 2009, Mr. Lahey published his own book called “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method” and that book goes into amazing detail how to achieve the most out of the least.  Below we’ve laid out the basic recipe, or if you're not in the mood to read, just watch the videos!  Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

 

Let's do it...

  • 4 cups of flour. (Bread flour or “hard” flour is preferred, but you can use all-purpose flour as well)

  • teaspoon instant yeast (you can substitute with “active dry” yeast, but you'll need to proof the yeast before mixing into the flour – instructions are always printed on the package)

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

  • 2 cups room temperature water

  • a little cornmeal or wheat bran

  • a heavy pot, preferably an enameled cast iron pot like a 4.7L or 5.2L round Le Creuset. A traditional cast iron dutch oven will work, so will a pyrex pot, and so will any other heavy pot.

 

Start the process anywhere between 21 to 24 hours before you wish to serve the wonderful warm bread.

  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast and salt - use your hands or a spoon.  Add the water and mix; you'll end up with a sticky and very wet dough (add a little water if it seems dry).  Cover with plastic wrap or foil.  Let the dough rest for about 18 hours at room temperature.  You can shorten this time period to as little as 12 hours, so use this stage to make the timing work for you.  You'll know the dough is ready when its dotted with bubbles.

  2. Lightly flour a work surface, then remove the dough and simply fold once or twice.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and wait 15 minutes.

  3. Generously coat a cotton towel with cornmeal or wheat bran then put the dough seam side down on the towel.  Try to make it into a ball; depending on how moist your mixture was and the type of flour, this may be more difficult - don't worry!  Sprinkle flour on the dough then cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours.  Like in the first stage, if you leave slightly less or more time the difference is negligible - the ultimate goal is that your bread comes out of the oven 30 minutes before you wish to cut it up to eat.  The dough will double in size, and when it's ready it won't spring back when you poke it with your finger.

  4. The most important step: At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, place your heavy pot in the oven and turn the oven on to 450F.  What you are doing is creating a mini oven that will trap the moisture and help create the perfect crust.  Carefully remove the pot (remember, it's hot!) and plop the dough into the pot.  Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake for another 25 minutes.  The bread will easily fall out of the pot once done.  Let the bread rest on a cooling rack for 30 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy! 

VARIATIONS: 

  • Use 50% Ontario Red Fife flour from C.I.P.M. (yum!), available at The Healthy Butcher

  • Or try other flours, keep in mind that whole grain flours will not rise as much

  • Add other ingredients, like honey and raisins for a sweeter version.  Or just before baking, mix in cheese and bacon!

Mario's No Work Bread - step by step - 1

Mario's No Work Bread 2 - step by step

Watch Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey in New York

The original 2006 video

If you do not see the first video, open this link in a web browser:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Ah9ES2yTU

 

The Recipe Revisited

If you do not see the second video, open this link in a web browser:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LaODcYSRXU&feature=channel

 

 

 

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