hibernation - baking & breaking bread

what is it about winter that just makes us want to stuff our cheeks with food and curl up in bed for a few weeks? particularly the stuff our cheeks part. fortunately, hopefully, the end is nigh (of winter that is).

during the crazy february snowstorm, some friends and i went on a baking frenzy and made a bunch of different breads and pizzas from jim lahey's bread book "my bread". you may remember lahey from when he was featured on mark bittman's blog some years back, where he sort of messed with everyone's past notions of breadmaking (mine, for sure).

lahey says, let the bread do the work, not the breadmaker. his innovative no-knead method uses just a bit of yeast and no-kneading (obviously), letting the bread sit 12-16 (up to 18!) hours overnight, then a quick shaping and another few hours to rest, an hour in the oven and voila. best loaf of bread EVER. some of you may be saying, "but i don't have time to make bread and wait for it to rise, boo hoo". the beauty of this method is that you're asleep for the majority of the "work". and sleeping while working, well don't we all sneak naps at our desk jobs anyway?

after a few trials of the standard "no-knead bread" (recipe here) using a variety of different flour combinations and resting times, we went for a nice alternative. OLIVE LOAF!!! who doesn't love a goodwarm crispy chewy olive studded loaf of bread, fresh out of the oven?

at first glance, this recipe might look LONG and complicated. it's actually just 6 easy steps, the author is just a bit verbose, but that's to ensure that your loaf comes out looking (and tasting) stellar. so don't shy away! throw this together before bed tonight and you'll be glad you did.

Pane all'Olive (Olive Bread)
Yield: One 10-inch round loaf; 1 1/2 pounds
Equipment: A 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart heavy pot

3 cups bread flour
about 1 and 1/2 cups roughly chopped pitted olives
3/4 teaspoon instant active dry yeast
1 and 1/2 cups cool (55 to 65 degrees F) water
wheat bran or additional flour for dusting

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, olives and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.

2. When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using lightly floured hands, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

3. Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran or (we used) flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran or flour. Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

4. Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third, and place a covered 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart heavy pot in the center of the rack. (Make sure your lid is oven safe!)

5. Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution! the pot will be very hot.) Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

6. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to gently lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.


Preetha.M said...

Loved the recipe of no-knead bread.
Work From Home India

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