I have been baking a lot of bread lately. Like 35 pounds of flour in 3 weeks amounts of bread. My mom says it's cheaper than therapy. She is probably right. I've baked whole wheat bread, classic white, cinnamon, and as of the last few days crusty, chewy magnificent bread. My research on fermented bread started earlier this summer when my lovely neighbor delivered a loaf. Her husband, an executive chef at one of my favorite restaurants, had been experimenting. Well I ate that entire loaf of bread before Kevin even came home from work. Sorry about that honey... After I had burned my self out of baking croissants from scratch, (PS the greatest thing I've ever created) I was going to tackle long rising bread. I'm not sure why I waited so long, because 1- it's amazing, 2- it is so easy. If you need to take bread to Sunday dinner I promise you, you will want to double this and take two loafs. So good.
Start with a regular mixing bowl, add flour, salt and yeast. Quickly mix it together...
Add water and stir the gloppy mess.
Mix it until all the flour is absorbed and its pulled together.
Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit overnight. Or a day. It doesn't have to be in the fridge or someplace warm. Just cover it and leave it alone. When it's done it looks all spongy and gross. It looks speckled with seeds, but those are air bubbles.
Take that spongy mess and scrape it out of the bowl onto a floured surface, like a lot of flour.
It holds its shape better than you think.
Cover it in flour and shape it into a ball...
Plop it into a preheated pot. Careful! The pot is hot. So you can't really touch the bread after you drop it in there. (Believe me, it's easy to forget it's hot and to grab it with your hands. I do it all the time. You'd think I'd learn...)
Bake it for 30 minutes...
Take the lid off and then bake it for 15 more minutes.
I've added a teaspoon of minced garlic in with the water and had amazing garlic bread. I think next I will add cinnamon chips? Or cranberries? The options are endless!
3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 & 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Yeast
1 & 1/2 Cups Water
You will also need an oven safe pot with a lid. Some say a enamel cast iron is required but i've used that or my soup pot with a lid and both loaves turned out exactly the same.
Mix your dry ingredients together in a bowl. I used just a regular mixing bowl since I was just going to keep it on the counter overnight.
Add water, i've used cold water, and warm water, doesn't really matter.
Mix together until it is a sloppy mess.
Cover with plastic wrap, make sure the wrap is on tight so it traps all the moisture in.
Let it sit on your counter for 12 hours, or 13, or 23 hours. It will get all spongy.
..... ..... ......
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Then stick your pan and lid in there for 30 minutes, get it all nice and hot.
Plop your dough out of the bowl onto a heavily floured surface
Shape it into a ball, I use my dough scraper, and I don't knead it, not at all.
Plop that roughly shaped ball of dough into your piping hot pot. Be careful and don't forget that your pot is HOT.
Put the lid on the pot and throw it back into the hot oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes take the lid off and bake for 15 minutes.
Then remove it from the pot and take a deep breath because you have created the greatest loaf of bread.