Rosemary College Bread

This recipe is adapted from Jim Lahey and the Sullivan Street Bakery, courtesy of Mark Bittman at The New York Times. As explained in our last post, we used this super-easy recipe as a tool for building community dialogue here in Seattle’s North end. If you’ve ever been too intimidated to try making bread (as I have been), don’t be. Check this out.
  • In a large bowl, combine 3C flour, 1.25 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp dry yeast. Add any desired mix-ins (e.g. dried herbs, berries, nuts. Rosemary is always a winner.).

    simple ingredients

  • Mix together, make a well in the middle of the mixture, and add 1.5C warm (not hot) water.
  • Stir with a spoon or clean hands JUST until it’s more or less uniform. Add a splash of water if flour isn’t mixing in fully. Don’t knead it! You want to leave air pockets in the dough.
  • Cover the bowl with a clean towel, and walk away! Don’t come back for at least 12 hours!
  • After 12-24 hours (longer fermentation = more sourdough flavor), pull dough onto a floured board. Look at all those beautiful little air pockets!
  • Without smooshing or kneading it, fold the long edges upward and toward the middle, then fold the short edges upward and toward the middle.

both long edges folded toward middle

folding first short edge

  • Gently turn the dough over, and coat sticky areas with flour. Compressing the dough at this point will crush the air-pockets made by the yeast, so be gentle.

    gently now...

  • Cover again with towel or bowl & let proof (sit) for at least 20 minutes (longer = airier). We find the bowl much easier to clean than a floury towel!
  • Preheat oven to 450F. In oven, preheat a heavy covered pot (e.g. Dutch oven, or oven-proof stock pot. We use a lidded roasting pan, because we’re college students and it’s what we had. A $200 Le Creuset Dutch oven is NOT, repeat NOT necessary!)
  • Once at temp, place the proofed dough into pot/pan. As you transfer the dough, shape it gently by tucking the thinner edges under (this might take a few tries, but makes it pretty!). Cover and bake for 25 minutes. The cover keeps moisture in & develops a nice crispy, flaky crust.
  • Uncover pot, and bake for additional 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.
This is the. Easiest. Bread. Ever. The less you touch it, the better off it is; yeast and time do all the work of kneading. It’s generally a forgiving recipe, and easy/cheap enough to have some fun experimenting. More flour = denser bread, more yeast = more air pockets & sour flavor, too much smooshing/kneading/handling = fewer air pockets. Try mix-ins, using whole wheat flour (will require fewer C than all-purpose), longer fermentation times, using a yeast starter, and so forth. 

thanksgiving loaves; rosemary, dried cranberry

Especially, be good to your local farmers (because yes, you do have local farmers): buying their products circulates money in your local economy and builds your community. Eventually that will come back to you in good ways. Other great things about this bread:
  • no preservatives
  • no funky other chemicals
  • no plastic packaging
  • made from local products
  • average loaf of “rustic” bread at a grocery store is $2.30 to $4.99: this will run you about $0.80. Like we said: college bread.
Have fun, share, and eat hearty!


(And if our picture tutorial action wasn’t clear, here’s the video itself from Mark Bittman at the New York Times:)


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College, Bread So Easy I Can Do It, and Saving the World with Simplicity

A few years ago, New York baker Jim Lahey came up with an amazingly simple bread recipe and was kind enough to share it with The New York Times’ Mark Bittman, who in turn shared it with the rest of us. Lahey claims this bread is “so simple a four year old could make it.” I believe him! Although I have a bit of culinary talent, none of that talent carries over into the realm of complicated baking. As Kelly will tell you, I just don’t have the patience. The great thing is that with this recipe, no patience is required. It literally takes only about six minutes of total hands on time.

Lahey, Bittman, and the New York Times have named this bread “No-Knead Bread.” You can find the article in Bittman’s “The Minimalist” online column at “The Secret to Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work.” I have since renamed my version “College Bread” because it’s so easy to make and doesn’t drain away all of the precious minutes required for my studies, club activities, activism, and extreme running and biking habits. Similarly, it would be easy to make if you only had a few short minutes while your kids are napping or before rushing off to an important board meeting. This recipe is so great that some friends and I thought that we would share it!

A few weeks ago, some of the students at North Seattle Community College and I successfully hosted a community-building project called “A Knead for Unity.” Driven by our desire to reach out to the community, break through the barriers of political partisanship, and start a community dialogue, we invited all of Seattle to come into our school under the following manifesto:

In the United States, late November often brings thoughts of the Thanksgiving holiday, and the comfort and community of wholesome food. Few things are more fundamentally and universally enjoyed and shared by humans.

Next week we are tapping into the 6000-year old tradition of breadmaking to connect us all to one another, to the fruits of simple foods made well, and to the ecological benefits of carefully produced ingredients for these foods.

During this fun, free presentation you will learn how to make super-easy, no-knead bread. While the bread is baking, learn about club and community leadership activities happening here at North. Then: EAT and TAKE HOME FRESH HOT RUSTIC BREAD!!!!!!!

During our five day baking extravaganza we made over 250 loaves of bread and fed participants, evening students, campus security, a homeless shelter, and even the Mayor of Seattle! More importantly, our mission was accomplished — we connected with the community and started a dialogue.  This was a four step process:

First, we began the even with the showing of the video NY Times video Baking Bread at Home (YouTube title: Making No-Knead Bread). With this video, our participants learned how to bake family-size portions of  No-Knead Bread.

Our next step was to show our audience how to draw in their own crowd and start a conversation in their local circles. We did a little simple math, and taught them how to make enough bread to feed over 100 people. Additionally, after we get feedback and make adjustments and touch up our reference page, we are going to make the PowerPoint presentation public property so that if anyone wants to use this method as a means of starting a dialogue, they can.

We then began our own conversation with the audience by defining a few terms and talking about them etymologically.  The terms defined were Community, Conversation, and Sustainability.  I plan to post separate entries on each definition later this week.  So stay tuned!

The last part of this hour and a half forum was actual community dialogue.  We invited those present to share their ideas on any topic.  The purpose of this was to make everyone present aware of concerns within the community. The issues brought forward ranged from a campus-wide smoking ban to conceptualizing an outreach project with local elementary schools. Some of the ideas were big; some of them were small; but they were all important.

The “Knead for Unity” Project was a huge success, and has created quite a buzz around Seattle. I’ll let you know when and where the PowerPoint is posted as soon as we have it worked out. If you’re interested in learning how to make this bread, check out our next post on “Rosemary College Bread.”



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Hello, and a collective “welcome.” We’re new here, too.

Chris and I have been talking about starting a sustainability-focused blog for months. Yesterday we finally reached a critical mass of intention, and so here we are.

This summer we’ve taken in a ton of information. The thing that really got us started on sustainability was a book called No Impact Man;The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process. That’s really the title; no kidding. It’s a great book. Author Colin Beavan introduces himself as a former classic screechy liberal, one who crows about the misdeeds of others and offers plentiful judgment but who, at the end of the day, is rather at fault himself. Thing is, that’s what we were doing. We thought we were environmentalists, but reading that book made us realize that it was really just lip service, and that there was much  more to be done. No Impact Man jump-started our little sustainable engines, and got us moving in a process that will continue — and expand — for a long time.

Since tapping into the well of information and intention Beavan has gathered together, we’ve been reading dozens of books and websites, biking here and there and everywhere, and judging our food purchases not just on price but also on how little packaging it’s wrapped in, whether or not that packaging is recyclable or compostable, and how far the product has traveled to get to us (Italian cheeses are out). Milk comes from west-coast cows only. We’ve gotten rid of our TV. We Freecycle. We plant trees in county parks. We haven’t seen a plastic grocery store bag in months. None of this in and of itself is unprecedented, or groundbreaking, but it’s changing our awareness and focus. As we wrote in the “about us” page, we are not experts. We’re just trying to figure out what to do, because we’re convinced that dramatic changes need to take place very, very quickly if we hope to preserve anything resembling “the good life” for future generations, and even for ourselves in the coming years. As climate change scientists ruefully tell us, time is drawing short. We need to move forward — only forward — together, without wavering. We need relentless forward motion.

So here’s our attempt.

But wait, let’s hear it one more time: we are not experts. We’re not here to educate other people; we’re here so that people, us included, can educate ourselves together. Add your suggestions, thoughts, disagreements, ideas on better ways to do things. We invite everyone who stops by to join the conversation; together we will be much better equipped to face the many challenges hurtling our way. The time is now. Welcome.


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