Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Cooking; Beautiful Bread

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Click over to check out her post where she shares two recipes from her grandparents. 

Bread is a life force at our house.  We toast it, we dunk it in soup, we make fat vegetarian sandwiches with it.  I love to bake it as well.  Not one person in our 5-member family doesn't love bread.  My husband enjoys bread at dinner so if there isn't any fresh baked he will just take sandwich bread and toast it, asking everyone "Who wants toast?"  Everyone will say "YES", except for me-I only eat bread when its the good stuff.  Sometimes we have this wonderful sourdough from a local Bosnian bakery-ahhhh!  I can smell it toasting.  Can't really-my nose is too stuffed up from this cold but I can mentally smell bread so deep is our connection.

Recently we've started rethinking, just maybe, we eat too much bread.  My husband is a runner and gets plenty of excercise, I do yoga and both our kids are active and thin but still we think cutting back could help our waistlines.  Groovy Girl, suffers from tummy aches, takes her lunch almost everyday (thankfully) and she relies on a sandwich as the main part of her lunch.  We've had to get creative on how to make her a healthy lunch without two pieces of bread as her main course. Any suggestions??

But for Easter we have to have bread what with family coming and all...

In the middle of this "bread heavy conversation" I knew I still had a bread recipe to try from Faith Durand's cookbook, Not Your Mother's Casseroles.   I've now made it four times, it is super easy and each time the loaves turn out very similar, which is a win for me.  If you are making a big Easter meal or need something to bring to a big Easter meal...this bread would be wonderful to share.  I made an extra loaf and I'm going to drop it off this morning in its own Easter basket for friends. 

Simple Pot Bread

Baking Dish: 5- or 6- inch Dutch oven or other stovetop-to-oven pot with a lid
Bake Time: 45 minutes

3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
¾ tsp regular yeast or ½ tsp instant yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups water

1. Make the dough in the morning, before you eat breakfast or go to work. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. The dough will be sticky and wet; slightly goopy. Spray the dough lightly with nonstick cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in the warmest spot in your kitchen. Let it rise for at least 6 hours, although up to 12 hours will be fine.

2. About 3 hours before dinner, lightly spray a work space with nonstick cooking spray or a little oil. By now the dough will have expanded into a wet, dimpled mass. Dump the whole thing out onto the oiled surface. Push it roughly into a ball and cover it again with a clean kitchen towel. Let it sit for 2 more hours. (this step could be skipped it needed but will add more air to your loaf)

3. When you’re ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the Dutch oven in the oven to get hot.

4. Pour or roll the dough into the hot pot. You may have to pry it or peel it off the countertop. [I used my nice silicone dough mat from Pampered Chef and it popped right off]  Cover the pot with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes to brown.

5. Remove the bread from the oven and immediately take it out of the pot, using potholders or a thick kitchen towel to handle it. If you have the time, let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing so it can set.

Adapted from Faith Durand’s Not Your Mother’s Casseroles (2010)
I don't have a Dutch Oven-my mother says she'll pass hers on to me when she's done (which means dead) with it-that could be years but I just used my largest Corning Ware pot.  The bread came out square and it turned out beautiful.  There is something so delightful about fresh bread that makes it hard to give up.  I loved that step #2 gives me the opportunity to knead it a little.  I love watching the bread come together under my hands.  Adding the cold water to the flour mixture surprised me as the yeast doesn't get to "proof" but it rises just fine. 

Yummy with fresh unsalted butter.
I served this to my book club on 4-18-2011 with bleu cheese crumbles.  We discussed The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls-the bleu cheese represented mold. 
None of the pictures do it justice-I think photographing food is hard but look the bread has airy holes in it. 
If you want to easily print the recipe off here it as a Google Doc...Simple Pot Bread (yes, the name cracks us up also).
Happy Easter!