In the winter months…well any time really, but especially in the winter, the smell of bread baking is so delightful. I know bread is out of favor with many people these days, but not me - I LOVE bread. And nothing is better than home made bread! I have passed this affection along to my children and now whenever my son is headed home from university, I put the dough into the oven when he is an hour away so he has fresh hot bread to welcome him - it’s become a bit of a tradition in our house.
The problem with making home made bread is that it is generally also a workout since it requires kneading. THIS bread recipe, however, is so easy. It requires no kneading at all and takes only 4 ingredients. It is so simple to make, it just requires a bit of planning ahead, because it needs overnight to rise.
Rustic No-knead Bread
Plastic Cling Wrap
Pastry Mat or Cotton Towel (not terry)
A 6-8 qt heavy covered pot
3 cups of flour (all purpose or bread flour or a mix of the two)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 5/8 cup water
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients, stir in the water. Stir until all the flour is incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave on the counter at least 12 hrs or up to 18. The dough will be increased in volume and bubbly on the surface. Turn the sticky dough out onto a lightly floured surface, sprinkle a bit more flour onto it and fold it over once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or just turn the bowl over it, and let rise for about 2 hrs. About a half hour before baking, turn on the oven to 450’ to preheat with the empty covered pot inside. When you are ready to bake, take the pot out of the oven, turn the dough into the pot - it will look a mess, which is no problem - jiggle the pot if you want to encourage it to the middle for a more even round. Cover and return the pot to the oven for 30-40 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes until beautifully browned. Cool a bit before slicing.
This makes a decent size loaf, but I have also doubled the recipe with success. You can substitute other kinds of flour - whole wheat, rye, etc for up to half the flour, and you can add anything you like to the dough. At various times I’ve added raisins, cheese, roasted garlic, and various fresh herbs - not all together, of course! It’s fairly foolproof and fun to experiment with different flavors!
My favorite addition is rosemary and roasted garlic. To roast garlic, slice the tips off the cloves of a whole head of unpeeled garlic, place in a small baking dish (I just use a ramekin) and drizzle the exposed cloves with olive oil. Roast in a 400 degree oven for around 40 minutes, let cool a bit. The garlic cloves will be sweet and squishy and you can just squeeze them out of the skin and add them to the dough mixture along with some chopped fresh rosemary! Let rise and bake as per the directions and enjoy! This is a wonderful accompaniment to Italian food, or as a base for a delicious grilled cheese sandwich, or just eat it hot out of the oven as a snack. Yummm…
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