Fresh baked bread. Is there anything better? Really?
I’m sitting here trying to figure out what’s for dinner. All I can come up with is spaghetti because I’m in a tomato sauce mood but we don’t have any bread to go with it. Andy reminds me that we have hot dog buns that need to be used, so I can make garlic bread with them. THIS SUGGESTION IS AN ABOMINATION. I head to Pinterest. There I am saved by finding a lead on a no-knead bread recipe from theitaliandishblog.com – but even a no-knead, four ingredient bread recipe is too much for me because she starts talking about things like steam and baking stones and I just want some awesome bread that I don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for at Earth Fare. But, I can make a big batch of this and keep it in the refrigerator to cut off a hunk when I want to bake. So I have a plan and it involves cast iron instead of a baking stone and ignoring that steam action. On second thought, I’ll try the steam thing; it’s not like I don’t have water and a pan. Let’s see how badly this turns out.
I halved the original recipe and it looks like it will make 2 loaves. I’m using:
1 packet of instant dry yeast
¾ tablespoon sea salt
1 ½ cup warm water
3 ¼ cups flour (I used half bread flour and half all-purpose)
Random amount of Mrs. Dash (I just thought it would be a nice addition, I’ll use more next time)
Put yeast, sea salt, and Mrs. Dash in a large bowl. Add warm water. Throw in the flour and mix it until you don’t see any dry patches. That’s it. How easy is that? I can do that. Now it’s supposed to sit for at least two hours (or overnight in the fridge). That’s where I cut corners today, because I want this done sometime close to dinner time. I lasted about 90 minutes (and wonders of wonders, I actually saw that it got poofy!). I took half and formed it into a ball and left it to rise again on well floured wax paper (@20 minutes) and put the other half in the fridge. It’s in a bowl with a lid but I read not to snap the lid completely shut so gases can escape. Or you can cover the bowl in plastic wrap with a small hole in it.
Then I put the cast iron skillet (top rack) and empty cake pan in the oven and set it to 450. The cake pan (bottom rack) is where the cup of water will go, to help steam the bread and give it a nice crust. The problem with this is getting the dough in the skillet when it’s time without totally ruining and deflating it. I didn’t do so well, but I did remember at the last minute to slash the loaf top a few times to be artsy and let gas escape. This is supposed to help you not have misshaped bread, but I had that going on anyway at this point. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remember to throw a cup or so of water in the cake pan.
Holy shitballs, I just made amazing bread. Seriously. I’m in a carb coma. Turns out anything I did wrong didn’t matter. True, I didn’t have a cute round boule but I had hot, crusty bread with my dinner and it was GOOD. And I can tell this is a good basic dough to add things to, depending on your mood and what you have on hand. Maybe garlic and cheese next time…