Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Lovely bread


I love how my kitchen smells when the dough is rising and baking. It’s a very earthy smell and one that takes me back to my grandmother’s kitchen. My brother and I were recently talking about how her home was such a respite when we were there because of how she made you feel. She pulled you in, made you laugh, and fed you delicious homemade food. This bread is my gift.

Simple Pot Bread

Makes 1 loaf suitable for 4-6 people
5-6 quart Dutch oven or other pot with lid

3 cups all-purpose (unbleached) flour
3/4 tsp regular yeast or 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt 
1 1/2 cups (warm) 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 wet and slightly goopy. Spray the dough with nonstick cooking spray or drizzle olive oil over the top. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap (I drape it with a flour sack towel) and leave it in the warmest spot in your kitchen. Let it rise for at least 6 hours, although up to 12 will be fine. 

2. About 3 hours before dinner, lightly spray a work surface, such as a countertop, with spray. 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 the shape of a ball and cover again with your towel. Let it sit for 1-2 hours. If you have to skip this step it will be fine. 

3. When you're ready to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put the Dutch oven into the oven to get hot as the oven heats up. ( I splash olive oil in so that heats up as well.)

4. Pour or roll the dough into the hot pot. You may have to pry it or peel it off the countertop. The dough will be very wet. Don't worry if it looks a mess as it's rolled into the pot. This is a rustic loaf! Cover the pot with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes to let brown. 

5. Remove the bread from the oven and immediately take it out of the pot and roll the bread right out. If you have the time let it sit for another 30 minutes before slicing so that it can set. This is plenty of time to put a casserole into the oven and make a salad, so by the time the bread has cooled and is ready to eat, you should be able to have a complete meal on the table. 

Slightly adapted from Not Your Mother's Casseroles by Faith Durand. 

I've made a few changes after making this bread hundreds of times. I start the yeast with warm water and stir it up with a fork to build a little heat. That's a Jaime Oliver trick. I end up adding about 1/2 cup more flour as I shape the loaf; it's not as sticky then and it doesn't hurt the final outcome at all. I've also been able to speed up the rising process by leaving it in my oven on the proof setting.  I shape my dough on this Pampered Chef pastry mat which is an amazing tool for bread and pie dough and it is very easy to clean up. 

Enjoy this easy gift for friends and family or make it for yourself! I generally make two loaves at a time; one to keep and one to give away. That isn't my photo {see source} above because I suck at food photography but the bread does look a lot like that. 

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