Monday, September 17, 2007

Unplanned Bread

I hadn't prepared a sponge for baking bread today as we still had better than half a loaf left when I went to bed last night. Upon waking however, my husband (at least he remembered to tell me) mentioned how good the last of it was with red=pepper humus late at night.

Long fermentation makes for wonderful bread, but this quick technique will also make a pretty acceptable loaf of bread when time is short. As I'm serving a salad of celery root in mustard sauce this evening, I wanted a bread that would compliment the wet marinade-this is just such a bread.

You Will Need:

3 ¾ teaspoons dry yeast (not instant)
1-tablespoon sugar
2 cups warm water (about 100 degrees F.)
1-teaspoon salt
5-6 cups bread flour
Cornmeal for dusting pan

Place the sugar in a large bowl with the water. Stir in the yeast and let proof about ten minutes. Mix in the flour a cup at a time until it is too stiff to stir with a wooden spoon. Move it to a floured surface (I really like flexible plastic cutting boards for this) and knead until smooth (about 10 minutes by hand). Place in a buttered bowl, turn once and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled (about 1 ½-2 hours).

Remove dough to a board and gently deflate and fold, once in each direction. Shape as desired, and place on a cornmeal dusted baking sheet. Begin preheating the oven to 425 degrees F. with a roasting pan on the bottom rack. When the bread has risen, score as you like and then add 1-2 cups of water (very carefully-stand to the side when doing this) to the pan (Don't do this if you have an exposed light bulb or any reason that the manual says not to. You have to read your manual-ok?) and quickly close the door. Again, very quickly open (standing to the side) and slide in the bread. Bake 20 minutes, then rotate pan and bake 10-15 more until; loaf is quite dark, hollow sounding or registers 200 degrees F. on a thermometer. Cool on a rack fully before slicing.

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