Smarter Living: Recipes

bread

Photo: bunchofpants/Flickr

A crusty yeast-raised bread requires time and planning, but not necessarily more work, as Jim Lahey's recipe proves. Long, slow rising (fermentation) is the secret to this flavorful loaf of country-style bread. Reprinted from In The Green Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, 2010), this recipe appears courtesy of Jim Lahey from Sullivan Street Bakery.

Makes one 10-inch round loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached bread flour
  • ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • olive oil
  • extra flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal, for dusting
  • one 4 ½- to 5 ½-quart ovenproof heavy pot with a lid (Pyrex glass, cast-iron or earthenware)

Method

  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the water, and mix by hand or with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds to one minute, until you have a wet, sticky dough. If it is not very sticky to the touch, mix in one or two more tablespoons of water. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature (approximately 72°F), until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough has more than doubled in size.
  2. When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough onto the surface in one piece. As the dough pulls away from the bowl, it will cling in long, thin strands (this is the developed gluten), and it will be quite loose and sticky; do not add more flour. Use lightly floured hands, a bowl scraper, or a spatula to lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.
  3. Generously coat a clean smooth cotton dish towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Gently lift the dough and place it seam-side down onto the towel, and lightly dust the dough with flour. Fold the ends of the towel loosely over the dough to cover it, and place it in a warm draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled, and when it holds an impression when gently poked with a finger. If it doesn't, let rise for another 15 minutes.
  4. 30 minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475°F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and placed the covered pot in the center of the rack. Carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the dishtowel, lightly dust the dough with flour, and quickly but gently invert it into the pot, seam-side up. Use caution, the pot will be very hot. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid, and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes more, until the bread is a deep chestnut color. Use a spatula or potholders to lift the bread carefully out of the pot, and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly, for one hour or more.

last revised 8/10/2011

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