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.).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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:)