A few weeks ago I read a novel called Friendship Bread. While the story was entertaining, the recipe at the back of the book that the story was premised on sounded intriguing so I xeroxed the recipe and started my own batch of sourdough. After 10 days, I mixed up a batch for pancakes and found that they didn't have enough "lift" to be able to get a spatula under. I threw the whole mess away after a very long cleanup of my kitchen.
This morning I gave another recipe a try, a No-Knead Artisan Bread that has people raving. I copied an article about it in Mother Earth News in 2009 and decided to finally give it a try. With public and private school cancelled for the day, I let the kids sleep in (Will slept until 10am) and with the only noise being the sleet rattling on the windows, mixed up the simple dough. After a 2 hour rise, I shaped a small round loaf, let it sit for an hour on the pizza peel, and slid it into the oven. The result was a small perfect loaf of bread that looked like it came from a fancy bakery. It was gone in a matter of minutes after I cut off a slice and we made another loaf, which disappeared just as quickly as the first. It seems I have found the perfect bread, crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside. The master recipe seems to be only the tip of the iceberg so I will be checking this one out from the local library and seeing if I can even make perfect pancakes with it as well.
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 TBL yeast
1 1/2 TBL salt
6 1/2 cups flour
Pour warm water into a large bowl, add yeast and salt, then mix in the flour all at once until it is uniformly moist. Cover loosely and let rise for 2 hours. Sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel and sprinkle the dough with flour, pull off a grapefruit size piece. Gently stretch the dough around to form a round ball and place on the peel, leaving it to rest for an hour. Preheat the oven to 450 F for 20 minutes with a pizza stone on the center rack and put a pan on the bottom rack to hold water. Slash the top of the dough with a very sharp knife. Slide the bread dough onto the stone and pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan below. Quickly shut the oven door and bake for 30 minutes or until the bread is brown and sounds hollow when you thump on it. Allow to cool before slicing. Refrigerate the rest of the dough covered for up to 2 weeks.
I'm just about to go into the kitchen to attempt to make pizza with this dough, which I usually make in the bread machine and tomorrow am going to try my hand at sticky caramel rolls.
(update: for pictures of my pizza, bread, and cinnamon rolls: baking success #2)