Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Simple Artisanal Bread

Today is an exciting day. Why, you ask? Well, for one thing, as of 12:30 p.m. today, I am officially done with final exams (and law school) forever. But more importantly, today is the day that I get to introduce my first ever guest blogger, Brittani. 

Brittani and I met in the Vaccine Injury Clinic this year, and as we became friends, I was pleased to discover that she likes cooking as much as I do. She kindly offered to send along some of her recipes for my blog, and her first contribution is Simple Artisanal Bread. Without further ado, here is Brittani's post:

Hi Everyone!

My name is Brittani, and I’m a 3L/soon-to-be alumna with Tina at GW.  Unlike Tina, however I finished with finals and everything last Tuesday, so I jumped at the chance to guest blog here while she studies away.  A few things you should know about me: (1) I love to bake, something most of my friends know, and (2) I name my kitchen tools, something most people don’t know until now.

This is my fool-proof simple artisanal bread recipe:

Please don’t mock me for buying yeast in bulk, I hate those little packets and am constantly running out of yeast.
(Editor note: I didn't even know they sold yeast in jars! What a great idea...)

Yeast that is now happy and multiplied.  
Your browser may not support display of this image.

My favorite thing about this recipe: just dump the liquids into the flour and fold it in until an ugly ball of mess forms. See the ugly ball of mess? That means stop stirring, cover with plastic wrap and walk away. If you're me and trying to speed up the process, preheat the oven to 200 while you're mixing all the ingredients, then turn it off and place your plastic covered dough into the nicely warmed oven. Then you can walk away for just 3 hours instead of 6. I don't recommend this method, but I was out of beer so I couldn't make the dough until after 12 and I wanted to be finished before midnight.

Remember when I said I like to name my kitchen tools? Well this is Moose. Why Moose? Because he's big (5 quarts) and he's the workhorse of my kitchen (frying, roasting, soups and baking).Your browser may not support display of this image. Note the shiny metal knob on his lid.  It’s really important for this recipe.  The black knob that Moose came with would melt in the oven if used in this recipe. The shiny metal knobs run about $10 at most kitchen stores and online, and are beyond worth the expense. Also now is a good time to take the batteries out of your smoke detectors, trust me on this one. 

When you finally take everything out of the oven, you have this amazing homemade bread that really doesn't take a whole lot of work, just a little bit of planning ahead of time -- it's especially easy if you make the dough in the morning and let it rise all day.

Thank you to Tina for allowing me to do this! (Editor's note: I should be thanking you!) Eventually I'll start my own blog, but for now I don't have the patience, lighting, or the camera for taking so many pictures while baking. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go eat all of this right now.

Simple Artisanal Bread (Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, Almost No-Knead Bread)

½ tsp. Instant Yeast
1 tsp. Sugar
7 oz. Warm Water
15 oz. + extra All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Salt
3 oz. Beer (pale ales work best)
1 Tbsp. White Vinegar
  1. Place the warm water in a small bowl, add the yeast and sugar, don’t stir.  Let it sit until the yeast begins to boom (approximately 5 minutes).
  2. Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Place the beer in a small bowl with the white vinegar.
  4. Once the yeast is bloomed, dump the yeast mixture, vinegar and beer into the flour, and fold in until a ugly ball forms. 
  5. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm place and walk away for at least 6 hours until the dough has doubled in size.   You can leave it be for as long as 12 hours.
  6. Generously, sprinkle flour over your workspace.  Dump your dough onto the workspace and knead about 10-15 times, and no more than that.
  7. Form into a ball by pulling the corners under and forming a taunt skin on top
  8. Get a sheet of parchment paper approximately 15 inches long and coat with non-stick spray and place the dough onto the parchment paper, and cover with plastic wrap again. You can keep it in a skillet pan and place it somewhere of the way for the next 2 hours.
  9. Approximately 30 minutes before the dough is done rising, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and put your dutch oven in the oven
  10. After the 2 hours is up, cut a slit across the top of the dough to allow steam to escape and sprinkle with flour. 
  11. Carefully remove the dutch oven from the oven and reduce the heat to 425 degrees.
  12. Using the parchment paper, lower the dough into the dutch oven
  13. Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for additional 10-15 minutes.  If you have an instant read thermometer, it should read 210 degrees when the bread is done.
  14. Cool on a baking rack until completely cooled if you can wait that long.


Andrea said...

Great post Brittani and Tina! The bread looks amazing. I've wanted to try this recipe since I saw it in the ATK cookbook, I'm so happy to read how easy it is and how delicious the end result looks :)

Candice said...

Your law school finals are done early! My last day of law school is today and my last final is May 5. Good luck to you!