October 11, 2009

Crusty Loaf

Today is your lucky day. On Fast Sunday I often torture myself by reading cookbooks or looking through food magazines. I know--it just makes it harder and is not in the proper spirit of the day, but somehow I always find myself with Ina, Giada or Betty. Today it's Ned. Ned Gardner is in Jamie's ward, and he contributed this fabulous recipe to the Harlem Family Recipe Book. It is absolutely wonderful. I even bit the bullet and purchased a cast iron pot just so I could make this bread.

One hint: read the recipe all the way through before starting. The first time I made this I ended up not having enough time to finish the bread properly and had to rush to Albertson's and buy bread to take to a gathering.

3 c all purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water and stir until well blended; dough will be sticky and shaggy. Cover dough with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature.

2. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, gently shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Place dough on flour dusted towel, and cover with another floured towel. Let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450. Put a 6 to 8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from the oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over in pot, seam side up (it may look like a mess, but it's okay). Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.


Camie said...

Oooh, pretty. Does that make you feel like you are back in Europe?

Thayer said...

I've got a dutch oven on my list so I can make this :) love your ruffly shirts, where are you finding these cute things (like the ruffle t-shirts in the Italy pictures)?

Woodengirl said...

Seriously, Al? I have never heard of a recipe like this before, but I like that it is a kind of a mix ahead and bake right before you entertain kind of thing. I am going to give this a try for sure!

I also enjoyed your Italy and Ella's birthday pictures. I can't believe a year has gone by already.

Anonymous said...

I will have to give it a try! It looks delicious!