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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jesus is the bread of life!

Lately, I've been meditating on the scriptures in John where Jesus directed His disciples to "eat my flesh and drink my blood." At the time, that was a hard message, but one we understand on this side of the cross because of the Holy Spirit revealing truth to us regarding the power of being a born again believer. With all of the cooking going on this Thanksgiving and thoughts of Jesus' flesh being the bread from heaven broken for us, I had a hankering to bake a fresh loaf of bread. I came across this recipe on Pinterest and it was so easy and delicious. Check out this picture - isn't it beautiful? And so delicious too! Here is the recipe - no bread machine or kneading required. All you need is a bowl, covered pot, flour, salt, yeast, water, time and a hot oven and voila! Piping hot, delicious bread! Enjoy!

MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2010

Crusty Bread

I must begin by saying where the recipe originated, if in fact it originated anywhere...really.  I think bread has been baked for centuries using flour, salt, water, and yeast or other form of leavening.  As far as I know the recipe for "No-Knead" bread dough was printed in the New York times.  I don't know what month, day, or year.  The originator is Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery.  That's all I know.  I found the recipe in a booklet using enamel cast iron pots.  At the time I posted the recipe I had no Jim Lahey even existed or I would have definitely given the man full credit for this wonderful bread and idea.  That said....

Remember before beginning to create, that this bread is highly forgiving.  Don't stress over the fact that you haven't proofed the yeast or that you're not giving the dough a second rising time.  It's super duper sticky and will stick to your hands, feet and hair or anything else it comes in contact with.  Play with the recipe for your location.  Altitudes differ and that can affect the bread.  This recipe is not your ordinary bread recipe.  Just chill and follow the instructions


You do NOT have to have an enamel covered cast iron pot. You can use anything with a lid that can take the heat.

In a large mixing bowl add 3 cups white unbleached flour.

To the flour add 1 3/4 teaspoon salt (I use kosher I like it) and 1/2 teaspoon yeast.

Whisk the flour, salt and yeast together.

Add 1 1/2 cups water. 

Mix in the water.  I love these "spoonula's".  I use them all the time.

That's it!  The dough will look like a shaggy mess.  That's ok. 

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it set for 12 - 18 hours on the counter top.  DO NOT REFRIGERATE.  This is not optional.  It takes that much time to proof the dough.  The reason why you need a large bowl, is because the dough will start to rise.

After 12 hours the dough will look like this.  It's pretty sticky, but that's ok it's supposed to be.

Meet my blue Le Creuset.  It's so awesome.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  As soon as it has heated to 450 degrees place your pot with the lid in the oven and pre-heat the pot for 30 minutes.

Right after you put the pan in the oven to preheat, dump the dough out onto a HEAVILY floured surface.  I love my pastry cloth.  Use it for everything.
Now, please disregard that this dough has stuff in it.  I'll get to that later.  I just forgot to take a picture of the plain version.  This dough has also been doubled so it's twice the size of a single batch.  After you dump the dough on to a floured surface shape it into a round ball.   This will rest for 30 minutes while the pan is heating.

After you shape the dough cover it with the plastic wrap that was over the bowl.  Yes, I know I have two loaves of bread.  It's because I doubled the recipe.  You can do that.

Remove the pot from the oven and carefully pick up the ball of dough and drop it into the pot.  You may want to flour your hands, because the dough is going to stick like crazy.  Remember the pan is now 450 degrees hot!  Be careful.  Put the lid on the pot and return it to the oven for 30 minutes.

I am baking two loaves at once.  Please notice how used my Le Creuset pots are.  Everything is my kitchen is heavily used.  If you have any advice as to how I can clean my babies, please let me know. 

Close the oven door and bake for 30 minutes.  Wait until you see the next picture.  This will blow you away!

Holy cow!  Can you believe how gorgeous that is.  When you put the dough into the pan, it looks like a shaggy mess and when you take of the lid, you have a masterpiece.  Remove the lid from the pot and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.  This is when you can start patting yourself on the back while telling yourself how awesome you are...because you ARE. 

I just have to show you more pictures of the bread after the lid has been taken off.  Scroll down and enjoy the beauty.

This is the finished product.  Remove from the oven and carefully remove bread from the pot.  Remember the pot is HOT.  I use a couple of hot pads and carefully pull out the bread.

Place the bread on a cooling rack until completely cooled.  That's it!  You did it!  How easy was that?  Now I'm going to show you just how much fun you can have with this recipe.  It's time to start creating different flavors.  I'm going to show you two different kinds of bread that I have made.

The first is Rosemary, Lemon and Gruyere.  This is the recipe I doubled.  So now all those chunks in the dough will make sense in the earlier picture.

Remember I doubled the recipe.  In the large bowl I have 6 cups flour, 3 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon yeast.  After I wisked those ingredients together I added the zest from two lemons, some chopped rosemary (I didn't measure, sorry) and about 2 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere. 

Mix all the ingredients together well and add 3 cups water (remember doubled).  Stir until you have a shaggy dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set 12 - 18 hours. 

This is what the dough looks like after 12 hours.  Now you can do what I did earlier.  Heat the oven to 450 degrees.  After the oven has heated put the covered pot in and heat for 30 minutes....... If you can't remember the rest, scroll up and refresh your memory.

Next  flavor.

Cranberry, orange and almond.  I didn't double this batch.  In my large bowl I have 3 cups flour, 1 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon yeast.  Add about 3/4 cup cranberries, orange zest from one orange and about 1/2 cups sliced almonds.  Mix it together well and add 1 1/2 cups water.  Stir to form and shaggy dough.

Cover with plastic wrap and let set 12 - 18 hours.  Bake as directed above.  I think this is my favorite flavor.  Loved it!

I will now show you pictures of the bread I have baked.  Just scroll through the beautiful loaves of bread. 

Two loaves I added shredded sharp cheddar.  One is plain.

Cheddar sliced.

Cranberry, orange, almond in front and the back loaf is a seeded loaf with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and poppy seeds.

Here are the two loaves of Rosemary, lemon and Gruyere, the cranberry, orange, almond and a plain loaf.

I really don't need 4 loaves of bread so I'm wrapping them up in a dish towel and I will deliver them to four wonderful blondes that I start my morning with everyday. 

That's a cute little gift. 

I'm now going to give you some homework.  Start creating new bread flavors.  I'll share with you the bread  my son and I have made.  Oh, just to let you know, we have been creating so much that I have gone through 75 lbs. of flour since January.  NO, I haven't eaten it all.  I give it away. 

Our bread flavors:  Pepper jack cheese, Jalapeno cheddar, Raisin walnut cinnamon, Pumpkin sunflower poppy seed, Sharp cheddar, Rosemary lemon Gruyere, Lemon thyme Asiago, Asiago, Mixed herb with rosemary, chives and thyme and plain.  Now I have to tell you that I have experimented using wheat flour.  Whole wheat was WAY too heavy.  I tried adding just 1 cup wheat flour in place of 1 cup of white...ahh it was ok, but not great.

I can't wait to hear from you.  Let me know about your fabulous creations.

Crusty Bread

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours.  Overnight works great.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.  When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.  Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool. 

 I have created a new page for all questions that you might have regarding this recipe.  On this page you can send in your creation ideas or helpful hints.  I hope this will make it easier to receive questions to answers that you might have regarding this recipe.  Click on this link to ask any question you may have: FAQ'sQ:  Do I have to use an enamel covered cast iron pan?A:  NO.  You can use anything that can take the heat.  The following have been used that I know of:Clay pots with lids, Pizza stone with a bowl to cover the bread, insert from a crockpot, pyrex baking dish with a lid, stainless steel pot with a lid, baking dish covered with aluminum foil, old cast iron dutch oven.Q:  Do I have to use unbleached flour?A:  I always use unbleached flour.  You can try bleached flour. Q:  Can I use self rising flour?A:  I don't know.  I would just stick to all-purpose.Q:  What size is my pan?A:  My smallest pan is 5.5 quart.  You can use as small as a 3 quart.Q:  What type of yeast do I use?A:  I use SAF instant yeast.  Any yeast should work.Q:  Why is my bread turning out flat?A:  I don't know.  You could try using less 1/4 cup less liquid.  Or add a bit more flour.  Make sure you dough appears to be dry when you first mix it.  It will have more moisture during the rising time.Q:  Can my dough sit out longer than 18 hours?  Does it HAVE to be between 12-18 hours?A:  I have let some dough sit as long as 24 hours and the bread was beautiful.Q:  Have you tried Gluten-free?A:  No.  I'm still waiting for someone to venture into the realm of Gluten-free. If you try it, let everyone know.Q:  Do I have to grease or oil the pan?  Will my bread stick?A:  No you don't need to grease the pan.  I have never had the bread stick when using a cast iron pot.  I haven't tried anything else.  The best way to be certain that the bread won't stick is to form the loaf on a sheet of parchment paper and lift the bread into the pan using the sides of the parchment.  Leave the paper in  the pan.  It's won't burn.  When the bread has baked, just lift the sides of the parchment out of the pan.  Voila!

This note added 3/15/12:  I tried Rye bread.  It was delicious.  I tried two different recipes.  One was 1/2 rye flour and 1/2 white flour then added 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds.  For the first time it didn't rise much.  The loaf was about 2-inches high.  Made great focaccia, however.  The second loaf was 1 cup Rye flour and 2 cups white flour, 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds. I sprinkled caraway seeds on top.  It turned out wonderful and made some fabulous pastrami, Swiss and grilled onion panini's. 

This note added 3/14/12:  for all of you that have commented within the past few days, please scroll to the bottom of the comment page.  Notice "load more"  click on that and more comments will appear.  I have been trying to keep up with all comments.  I just want you to be able to find your comment and my answer.  If all else fails send me your email address and I'll shoot you a response.  Thank you so much for all the comments and ideas.  Love them!

 (Added 3/10/12)  Let me start by saying that you DO NOT need to oil, grease or PAM your cooking pot.  I have not had the bread stick yet.  You're going to have to trust me on that advice.  I have had many people ask what size pot I use.  In this post I am using a 5.5 quart enamel cast iron pot.  This size is perfect.  I am also using an oval pot that is about 7.5-8 quarts.  I have had comments that ceramic deep dishes work well.  Scan down through the comments to see other options for baking.

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