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Why I Learned to Bake Bread and You Should, Too!




 There is something about breaking your first loaf of bread from 'scratch' that is confidence building and leaves you with the sense that you can take on more than you imagined.

At least, that was my experience after I baked my first loaf of bread.

And that first loaf of bread was thanks to Jim Lahey's 'No-knead' long-rise method of making bread. I believe that everyone should bake a loaf of bread from scratch at least once. And then teach the same technique to your children.

Yes, I truly believe that the act of turning bread, water, and yeast into bread is that powerful...it is one of those seminal moments that are confidence building and empowering and will teach you that you are braver and better than you thought you were.

Why?

I believe there is something mystical and elemental about the act of baking bread that doesn't occur in other forms of cooking.

You take flour and water. Both relatively flavorless bland ingredients. You combine them with a teaspoon of yeast, and suddenly you have a rather bland paste.

You let that dough 'rest' for 12-18 hours and this paste becomes a fluffy dough.

Form it into a round, fluffy 'boule', let it rise for an additional two hours.

Then you bake it in a covered Dutch oven in a blazing hot oven set at 450F.

Forty-five minutes (or so) you have a beautiful crusty, airy loaf of bread. A thing of beauty that you can share with family and friends and which they will 'oh' and 'aw' about.

You will never be able to buy something similar in any store or bakery.

You might buy a fancier loaf from a professional baker, but I doubt you or your family will admit that your bread tasted any less spectacular than the one from a bakery.

Because it was made by you.

Is that a lot to ask from a loaf of bread? Sure.

But I promise you, take the challenge, bake your own bread and let me know if I'm wrong.

Here's a copy of Jim Lahey's recipe taken directly from his Sullivan Street Bakery website.

He gets full credit, I believe, in creating an entire new generation of happy home bread bakers.
I've mentioned him on this blog before, and I probably will again and again, but that's because I believe he deserves the accolades.



Formula and Process created by Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan St Bakery 
Formula: 
    3 cups (430g) flour
    1½ cups (345g or 12oz) water
    ¼ teaspoon (1g) yeast
    1¼ teaspoon (8g) salt
    olive oil (for coating)
    extra flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal (for dusting)
      Equipment: 
        Two medium mixing bowls
        6 to 8 quart pot with lid (Pyrex glass, Le Creuset cast iron, or ceramic)
        Wooden Spoon or spatula (optional)
        Plastic wrap
        Two or three cotton dish towels (not terrycloth) 
          Process: 
          Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand or with a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature (approx. 65-72°F).
          Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. Let the dough rest 15 minutes in the bowl or on the work surface. Next, shape the dough into ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran, or cornmeal; place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with a cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size.

          Preheat oven to 450-500°F. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and place the dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes Then remove the lid and bake 15-30 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.



          Enjoy!

          Love xo,

          Suzanne





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