Wondering where I have been? Wow, I can’t believe that it is a whole new year! I have been working on my new cookbook, writing articles, shooting other cookbooks with my husband and working in our
new Art Gallery!
In most places in the Northern Hemisphere it’s winter, but here in Northern California it’s only “kind” of winter. We moan and groan about the 39 degree mornings but it warms up to 60 plus by noon. The sky is blue and the air is crisp, I imagine it’s what Spring feels like everywhere else. I know some of you are digging out, so we really have nothing to complain about, do we? I have been making stews, soups and slow cooked braised turkey and it’s time for a change.
I just felt like making bread, it is warm, comforting and I knew my family would love it! Half the joy of bread making is the smell of it baking, and this one smells really good!
I know some of you are saying to yourselves that you can’t make bread, but you can. Whenever I need to reference a recipe I have two places I go, The old tattered Joy of Cooking cookbook and America’s Test Kitchen. Sometimes I just need an idea on a measurement to a method and these two sources can be so helpful. This time I wanted a fast easy bread recipe so I went to AMT and there it was….easy bread.
My Dutch Oven needed a change from all the stew-y things it has been churning out! Bread, I never thought of making bread in it, I assumed it was meant to hold soup-y, sloppy, slow cooked meats….not bread. What flavors would you add to this bread? Lemon zest and rosemary was our plan but we got distracted and forgot.
Oh, let me tell you from now on it IS my bread oven, not my Dutch Oven. It turned out a gorgeous loaf of golden, crackl-y artisan bread. So dust yours off and get out the flour because you are going to want to make this recipe.
Really Really Good Bread Recipe (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
The recipe calls for a mild lager but I used a medium/darker one. I liked the depth of the flavor a lot in the finished product.
The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside the empty bowl (no need to clean it between steps) and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined bowl and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.