It’s been crazy-azy-azeeeeee around here. I can’t think straight for all the stuff going on.
1. It’s tech week for the older kids’ play which means…
2. I’m away from home every evening, all evening, this week.
3. My extended family is coming this weekend which means…
4. Deep cleaning and lots of cooking happening all over the place.
5. Full-on obsessing about the fact that I don’t know what to write about for next week’s newspaper column.
6. Normal life stuff: cooking, a visit from the padres, mice, babysitting, homeschooling, relating to each other, etc.
Half of the time I’m stupefied by all the stuff that has to be accomplished. The other half of the time, I zip around wild-eyed, yanking weeds, flapping dust cloths, and barking orders. It’s nuts.
So … let’s talk bread. I have a new recipe for you, though actually it’s kind of an old recipe. I mean, I’m new to this recipe. But it’s been circulating around the web, for oh, say, a year or two, which makes it an old recipe, see? In other words, I’m behind in the game. In fact, I’m not even in the game—it’s more like I’m orbiting the game. Heck, I don’t even know what game I’m talking about. Forget it.
Anyway, this new-old recipe is for a loaf of no-knead bread that ferments at room temperature for 12-18 hours and then gets baked in an enameled cast iron pot. I am already well-acquainted with no-knead bread—I use it all the time for my pizza crust—so I figured this new recipe held nothing for me and totally ignored it for many, many months.
I played around with the recipe a little, just to see how it stood up to variations. I tried a loaf with some multigrain mix and another loaf with part whole wheat. Those loaves were fine, but not great. Back I went to the classic, all-white loaf. It’s the best. (Though you, of course, may decide otherwise. Be my guest.)
Confession: I’ve never really understood the different kinds of yeast—fresh? active dry? rapid rise?—and how to use them and when. This chart cleared things up for me quite a bit. For most of my baking, I use active dry yeast which needs to be dissolved in water before being added to the other ingredients. But for this recipe (and the baguettes) I use rapid-rise yeast which can be added straight into the flour and then undergoes a longer period of fermentation. I really like the breads made from the rapid rise yeast because I find they have almost none of the overpowering yeasty flavor of some other yeasted breads. (I’m afraid that last line made no sense whatsoever. Yeasty bread with yeasty flavor is the exact sort of gobbledy-gook you’d expect from a frizzy-haired, jittery, vacant-eyed crazy lady. I may be a lost cause. Check back in a couple days.)
Baked-in-a-Pot Artisan Bread
Adapted from the blog Simply So Good
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon rapid rise yeast
1½ cups cool water
Stir the ingredients together and let rest, covered with plastic, at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
Put your cast iron pot (lid and all) in an oven and turn it on to 450 degrees. Let it in the oven for 30 minutes so it gets good and toasty.
While the pot is heating, dump the bread dough out on a floured counter and knead briefly, just until it forms a smooth ball. (It will be sticky but refrain from going crazy with the flour—you get more holes with a wetter dough.) Let it rest on the counter until the pot is hot.
Take the pot from the oven, plop the ball of dough into it (no need to grease it), put the lid back on, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. Take the loaf of bread out of the pot and let it cool to room temperature before tearing into it.
Note: the above photos are of different loaves of bread, some of which have whole grain flours. Though I can no longer tell which is which.