While I certainly enjoy food – both of its eating and of its preparation – I do not consider myself a good cook or a prolific baker by any means. I have a few things I make that I’m proud to serve, and I really do enjoy entertaining in our own home.
Bread, to me, has always been something daunting, something beyond my limited culinary abilities. In fact, Rob’s sole attempt at breadmaking a couple of years ago resulted in 3 very hard little rocks. So hard that hurling them against our concrete front porch and the pavement had no effect. That did not bolster my hopes.
So, when Rob wanted to purchase a dutch oven and I started researching last week, I repeatedly read about people cooking bread in their dutch ovens (i.e.: simply a cast iron pot), and my interest was piqued. [For the record, we purchased this no-frills, economical version by Lodge, over the much-hankered for Le Creuset which quite literally costs 10 times more.]
Armed with my copy of “My Bread” by Jim Lahey, I dove into my maiden attempt at breadmaking!
The premise is simple: A “no knead” bread that is possible by exponentially lengthening the fermentation time, so that the yeast + gluten can work its magic. Then, using a dutch oven (the cast iron pot), the “oven-in-an-oven” mimics the powerful steam injection ovens of professional bakeries.
The first stage of mixing the ingredients is super easy: the author’s not kidding when he says it takes all of 5 minutes, and apparently so easy a child can do it.
Plop onto floured surface (I used parchment paper), shape into a ball, and cover with a towel for a second rise, about 1-2 hours. Until you can poke the dough with your finger, leaving an indentation that doesn’t bounce back.
((And then forget to take pictures of the part where I throw the dough into the pot, because I need all the hands I have))
Bread is done in the pot. The weird knot on the bread was the remnant dough I scraped off the bowl/my hands and plopped on top of the ball of dough. Clearly not a good idea because it makes my bread look like it has a cankerous sore. Or a tumor.
– Easy to make
– “Rustic” and “artisan”
– No weird chemicals like commercially produced breads.
– Can control what you put in it: organic flour / whole wheat / add other ingredients, all up to you.
– Crust is harder than I’d like, possibly because I ‘lost’ dough between the 1st/2nd rise and the ‘flipping’ into the pot, so I essentially overcooked this (less mass but same cooking time as recipe).
– Bread gets hard quickly – doesn’t keep for more than a day.
– Needs forward planning – prep today, bake tomorrow.
Overall Verdict: I’m very happy with the outcome, and I’m certainly hooked. As I write this, I have a whole wheat version fermenting on my kitchen counter. I LOVE BREAD!